New Year New You?

It’s that time of year again. A clean slate, fresh start, the start of 2019 brings about the chance to start again but whether it’s trying something new, cutting down after the indulgence of the festive season or vowing to quit that lifelong habit, it can be daunting to begin with many of us giving up before the end of the month.

Quality_StreetThe majority of new years resolutions probably have something to do with getting healthier, be it trying to lose weight or a resolve to get more exercise. After sometimes a week or more of over indulgence you can almost feel your body craving for something other than chocolate for breakfast. However it can be daunting cutting out absolutely everything so to minimise the shock to the system gently replacing those Christmas treats with some healthier alternatives.

Replenish some of those vitamins with one of Rod & Ben’s deliciously warming Spiced Lentilsoups. Choose from a variety of flavours including their Spiced Lentil with turmeric and cumin, Rustic Chicken Broth with potatoes, carrots and onions and classic Tomato and Basil. Made using organic, fresh and seasonal produce these soups are full of natural goodness and flavour and who doesn’t love a soup during these cold winter months?
Dorset_Blue_Vinny02Although not strictly healthy Dorset Blue Vinny is much lower in fat than its blue cheese counterparts and can still be enjoyed as part of a balanced diet. Made using the ‘leftover’ milk after the cream has been skimmed off for butter-making it retains a creamy, subtle flavour and slightly crumbly flavour. Made by the same family for the last 40 years, each cheese takes 24 hours to make and up to 20 weeks of maturation but it is definitely worth the wait. Top your crackers to your hearts content, just don’t add too much butter!

The recent rise in people participating in ‘Veganuary’ means that getting yourSquash_Curry_3_(1_of_1) five-a-day has never been easier. Whether or not you have decided to give it a try, there is no denying that some extra veg never hurt anyone. Slightly different from the traditional Boxing Day turkey curry, this butternut squash version from Lodge Farm Kitchen is packed with nutrients as well as being deliciously tasty. They are passionate about delivering great quality gourmet ready meals using the finest local produce and tried and tested home-cooking methods. This curry is made using locally sourced squash, coconut milk and fresh coriander and makes a hearty lunch sure to fill you up until dinner time.

Whatever your new years resolutions we wish you all the best, if all else fails, try again in 2020!

facebooktwitter

The Rise of the Gourmet Ready Meal

tv dinnerReady meals conjure up images of tasteless, bland food; the traditional TV dinner served in foil trays and often left, congealing and discarded on the coffee table. These days however, the ready meal has come into its own. With societies increasingly hectic schedules, longer working hours and increasing commuting times, getting in from a long day at work to a home cooked meal is often not a reality for most people. Recent market research found that the UK currently spends £4.7 billion on ready to eat convenience food each year and an increase in consumer demands for good quality food means that the humble ready meal has never been better – the rise of the gourmet ready meal is happening. An emphasis on fresh, locally sourced ingredients, expertly cooked and free from the traditional additives and preservatives means that they can be as good in quality as genuine home cooked meals.

lodge farm (2)Lodge Farm Kitchen are producers of gourmet ready meals based in beautiful Ross-on-Wye. A family business established in 2009 on their own farm they used home grown vegetables and beef from their own herd of Dexter cattle. With the expansion of the business and relocation to new premises, they now rely on produce sourced from the surrounding area and are proud to support local farmers. The meals themselves are prepared by expert, creative chefs who are passionate about creating great quality meals. Once cooked the meals are blast frozen to lock in the flavour and nutrients, meaning there is no need to add the Fish pie Pie- final Hi res (1 of 1)artificial preservatives often found in ready meals. There is lots of variety to choose from so you’re not stuck for choice! Their luxury fishpie is made with poached haddock and salmon in a creamy parsley sauce and topped with mashed potato, the Thai green chicken curry is made using free range British chicken and homemade Thai sauce with chillies, lemongrass, cumin and coriander and their roasted vegetable lasagne made with slow cooked tomato concasse, courgettes, aubergines, peppers and mushrooms layered with pasta and bechamel sauce and topped with mature Cheddar cheese is absolutely delicious! None of those take your fancy? The full range is available to view here: http://www.iscafoods.co.uk/lodge-farm-kitchen/.

Ready meals are continuing to evolve with the times with many companies now1 Fish Cakes Double cottoning on to the big business of gourmet frozen meals made with locally sourced, fresh ingredients and perfectly cooked. Many companies are now reducing the amount of plastic used in the production of their frozen meals including Lodge Farm Kitchen who ensure that all of their packaging can be re-used. This evolutionary business means that there is now a tasty, viable alternative to traditional TV dinners.

facebooktwitter

Smoking for Foodies

smokingWe have been smoking food for generations; using it to preserve food for long periods of time and for its tenderising and flavour carrying properties. It has been suggested that the recent resurgence of smoking food comes from a primeval attraction to fire and the memories it evokes, the smell of meat roasting on a BBQ is probably the modern equivalent of this as we imagine the delicious, tender meat we are about to eat. Cold smoking is generally used to smoke cured meats and fish as the temperature is usually kept to between 20-30bbq degrees meaning that the food being smoked is not cooked but merely infused with the smoky flavours. Hot smoking exposes the food to both heat and smoke and this is used to fully cook foods, creating moist meat and full, smoky flavours.
We stock a variety of smoked foods including the traditional cheese, fish, bacon and meats and we’ve listed some of our favourites below.

s9090Smoked Fish
Our John Ross smoked salmon is cold smoked over oak chips in the same red brick kilns used in the 19th century. The smoking process produces succulent flavours and a tender texture in the salmon which is sustainably farmed in the pure, clear waters of Scotland. This is available in 100g packs ideal for 1-2 people. We source the rest of our smoked fish range from Jacksons Fishmongers of Newton Abbot who prepare and smoke the fish sourced from Brixham fish market in their own kiln. We currently stock their rich and meaty smoked mackerel, smoked mackerel with crushed black peppercorns, lightly smoked trout and the classic Victorian breakfast dish, butterflied smoked kippers.

Smoked Cheese
We currently stock a variety of smoked cheeses all with varying degrees ofsmoked smokiness and flavour. Based in the lush valley of Newton St Cyres near Exeter the Quicke’s Oak Smoked cloth-bound cheddar is one of our favourites. It is naturally cold smoked over oak chips from their own trees for up to four hours, creating a subtle smokiness that compliments the cheeses’ buttery flavours.  Windyridge Cheese are artisan cheese makers based in Wincanton, Somerset. Their Bonfire Smoked cheese is made with smooth, creamy mature cheddar which is infused with rich, smoky flavours and dusted with paprika. The Dorset Red is made by Ford Farm Cheesemakers in Dorset. Their traditional mature cheddar is cold smoked over oak chips overnight which results in its distinctive smoky flavour and rich amber colour.

englishcuresmokedbackSmoked Meats
Our English cured smoked bacon is sourced from Devon Choice of Teignmouth, their bacon is full and rich in strong, smoky flavours which are great in pies, bacon sandwiches or a quiche Lorraine. The majority of our cured salamis are also lightly smoked including Danish, peppered and chorizo – our chorizo is also coated in smoked paprika for extra flavour.

facebooktwitter

Winter Party Food Ideas

This festive season we’ve got everything you need to ensure your dinner party, work buffet or simply an evening with friends goes off without a hitch, well the food at least! This time of year is the perfect excuse to show off your culinary skills and create mouth-wateringly good food using the finest ingredients.

5b057383-dbb8-4659-8b30-a73800a70a0f_800x800A simple classic some smoked salmon and cream cheese canapés will go a long way to pleasing your guests. Try them on some bought in crispbreads with some chive if you’re short on time or try making your own potato cakes with some dill and lemon for extra flourish. Our John Ross smoked salmon is cold smoked over oak chips using the same techniques passed down since the 19th century and is deliciously light and delicate with subtle smoky flavours and goes beautifully with cream cheese.

Another crowd-pleaser and Christmas staple is some baked camembert. This can1h4a9552_28727765675_o-1 be made really easy by simply baking the camembert as is and adding some garlic bread or crackers and a nice chutney – we recommend the Pear & Walnut chutney from Waterhouse Fayre as the flavours really compliment the cheese. However if you fancy making more of a centrepiece try baking a tear and share dough ball platter with some rosemary, thyme and cranberries. The dough helps the camembert to keep its shape as well as taking on some of the oozey cheese as it bakes – delicious!

BasilA classic meat and cheese platter is the perfect prepare ahead party option. Mix and match with the meat: some prosciutto, salamis, chorizo, pastrami – anything you and your guests will like. For the cheese we advise to pick a variety of different textures and varieties, a soft creamy brie, firm vintage, tangy blue and a sheeps, cow and goats cheese for a range of different flavours. Add some  sunripened tomatoes, salty olives – try some from the Cornish Olive Stall range – grapes and of course some warm crusty bread and you’re good to go.

For a buffet style dinner party the opportunities are endless, hot, cold, meat andChunk-Pork-Apple-Scrumpy-Sausage-Roll-600x630 vegetarian there are so many options. For the meat eaters try some festive pork and cranberry chipolatas from W F Chinn’s or their pigs in blankets are equally delicious. Chunk of Devon sausage rolls and pork pies in buttery pastry are a must as well as traditional honey-roasted gammon hot or cold from Kittos of Plymouth. For the vegetarians how about an Indian treat with some crispy vegetable samosas or deliciously creamy blue stilton and broccoli quiche.

We hope this has given you some ideas for the festive season, for more info on any of the products we’ve mentioned head over to our website.

facebooktwitter

Shop Local this Christmas

Related imageThe Shop Local campaign was launched in 2013 encouraging consumers to support their local, independent traders on the high street. There are many advantages to shopping locally including low food miles, finding something quirky and unique, building communities and getting better service to name just a few. Here at Isca Foods we are passionate about supporting local businesses. Many of our products are sourced from within the South West and collected from the producers themselves from jams and chutneys from Waterhouse Fayre, cheeses from Devon based Quicke’s and Sharpham and pies and pasties from Chunk of Devon in Ottery St Mary.

Christmas is an important time for many small businesses and this year why not support local and buy your gifts closer to home? We are lucky here in the South West that there are so many great community shops, deli’s and farm shops selling excellent local produce. We’ve listed a few of them below, so why not take a chance and make someone’s Christmas local this year?

Greendale Farm ShopImage result for greendale farm shop
Located just outside of Exeter this is so much more than a farm shop. With a butchers, deli and cheese counter, cafe and a host of farm animals roaming the grounds, a trip to Greendale is a real family day out. The farm shop itself sells a wide range of locally sourced products from fresh fruit and veg, local cheese, handmade pies, sliced cooked meats and charcuterie and specialist meat cuts by their award-winning butchers; you need look no further for your foodie treats this Christmas!

download (1)Fine Foods of Braunton
A family run delicatessen based on the gorgeous North Devon coast, this unassuming shop also boasts a cafe serving delicious freshly ground coffee and a selection of cakes and savouries. The deli prides itself on sourcing the best of local produce from cheeses, wines and spirits, olives, local creams and yogurts and sliced meats as well as handmade gifts. It’s ethos of good old fashioned service from knowledgeable staff makes it not just another shopping trip but a great experience.

Otterton-Logo.-Colour_crop-e1536159423675Otterton Mill
Set beside the River Otter in East Devon this historic mill draws visitors for its beautiful setting, reputation for fantastic food in the award-winning restaurant and their range of tasty treats in the food shop. A huge range of fantastic cheeses, delicious freshly baked bread and cakes, local sausages, handmade pies, sliced meats, olives and more as well as handmade unique ceramics, glassware and jewellery  in the gallery are on offer here. Pop along for lunch or afternoon tea and we bet you won’t leave empty handed!

Image result for stokeley farm shopStokeley Farm Shop
This thriving country farm shop based near Kingsbridge in South Devon is proud to support local producers and the local community, regularly holding live music events, crafting evenings and this years widely anticipated Christmas Market. It has everything you would expect from a farm shop: butchery, bakery and deli as well as fresh, homegrown fruit and veg. Their deli is bursting with local delights including olives, charcuterie and award-winning artisan cheeses as well as local chutneys, jams and pickles.

45541231_1986106681479573_4920883604579418112_nThere are of course many more fantastic deli’s, farm shops and community shops throughout the South West that we haven’t listed here, this time of year is the perfect opportunity to explore, find your new favourite and treat your loved ones to unique gifts. With fantastic local produce, low food miles, individual and often homemade items and bespoke service from someone who really knows their business and products, why not support your local deli, farm shop or community enterprise this Christmas?

facebooktwitter

World Cheese Awards 2018

Last week saw the return of the prestigious World Cheese Awards in Bergen, Norway. Thousands of cheeses from all corners of the world assembled to be judged by an expert panel of more than 230 judges. A number of our very own West Country cheese producers made the top half of the list; we’ve listed some of them below and congratulate all the winners on their tremendous success.

QuickesGroupQuicke’s Goat Milk
The Quicke’s are no strangers to awards and have been producing their traditional cloth-bound cheeses for the last 500 years. This Goat Milk cheese is matured for six months, during which time it develops a clean, buttery and slightly nutty flavour. It was judged worthy of a Gold award at this years awards.

Dorset Blue Vinny
Dorset Blue Vinny also scooped a Gold at the World Cheese Awards while alsoDorset_Blue_Vinny02 winning Best Blue Cheese at the Great British Cheese Awards. Made on Woodbridge Farm in Dorset, traditionally the ‘blueing process’ was encouraged by dragging mouldy horse harnesses through the milk however nowadays this practice has fallen out of fashion and instead long narrow pins spike the cheese, allowing air into it which helps the mould to grow and the flavour to develop.

Cornish Blue
This cheese previously won World Champion at the World Cheese Awards in 2010 and this year won Super Gold, an accomplishment awarded to the top 78 cheeses who then compete for the title of World Champion. Made by the Cornish Cheese Company on Bodmin Moor, the rich Cornish milk gives this cheese a creamy, buttery flavour and slight sweetness not commonly found in English blues.

Check out our website http://www.iscafoods.co.uk/cheese/ for our full list of award winning cheeses.

facebooktwitter

Should we be eating less meat?

A report published by Waitrose this week has found that a third of Britons have stopped or reduced their meat intake following growing concerns of the impact on our carbon footprint as well as animal welfare standards. One in eight are vegetarian or vegan and a further 21% are ‘flexitarian’, eating a diet mostly consisting of vegetables with occasional meat products. While we love steaks, burgers and bacon butties there is no denying the environmental impact such huge quantities of meat eating has on our planet and simply reducing our intake rather than cutting it out altogether could make a massive difference. We’ve listed a few alternative meat free products below, give them a try and you never know you might be converted!

Chunk-of-Devon-Chunki-Roast-Veg-Pasty.s-450x443Chunk of Devon Roasted Veg Pasty
Based in Ottery St Mary, Chunk of Devon are multi award-winning producers of pies, pasties and savoury snacks made using locally sourced ingredients. Earlier this year they changed their roasted vegetable pasty recipe to make it suitable for vegans. Roasted sweet potato, butternut squash, potato, red onion and herbs combine to make a delicious snack or lunchtime treat. Wrapped in a wholemeal flour pastry and covered in a pea glaze this has real depth of flavour and is suitable for everyone! In March this year they also launched their new goats cheese and butternut squash pie with red onion wrapped in buttery shortcrust pastry which is one of our favourites vegetarian or not.

Squash and Coconut CurrySquash_Curry_3_(1_of_1) 
Lodge Farm Kitchen are producers of gourmet, handmade frozen ready meals based in Ross-on-Wye. Using locally sourced ingredients and prepared by expert chefs their meals are firm favourites with our customers and a wholesome, nutrient rich meal can be ready in minutes. This squash curry is delightfully fragrant with organic butternut squash, coconut, cumin and fresh coriander; just add rice! Lodge Farm’s roasted vegetable lasagne has also become one of our bestsellers, made with courgettes, aubergines, peppers and mushrooms and topped with a bechamel sauce we promise you won’t miss the meat!

115631011_0_640x640Alpro Desserts
A renowned vegan friendly brand, Alpro have been making their soya milk desserts, yogurts and drinks since 1973. Both delicious and naturally lower in fat than their dairy alternatives they offer a variety of flavoured desserts including rich and silky dark chocolate, velvety vanilla, sweet and creamy caramel and smooth milk chocolate. Their milkshake drinks are also available in sweet and refreshing strawberry and luxurious chocolate flavours.

Cheese
The majority of our cheeses are now suitable for vegetarians with only a few exceptions. Traditional cheese making techniques include the use of rennet totawvalleyrange_hra7-n2 separate the curds and whey in a process called coagulation, rennet was traditionally sourced from the stomach of newborn calves. However now it often comes from either fungal/bacterial sources or genetically modified micro-organisms making the cheese suitable for vegetarians. All of our traditional farmhouse cheeses, stilton and most flavoured cheeses are suitable for vegetarians but if in doubt all the information is available on the cheese pages on our website.
http://www.iscafoods.co.uk/cheese/

Small differences in our eating habits can make a huge difference both to our planet and our own individual health. Initiatives such as #MeatFreeMonday are raising awareness and encouraging people to give up meat for just one day a week to help contribute to reducing our carbon footprint. With so many delicious alternatives available why not give it a go?

facebooktwitter

Christmas Cheeses

e339924a-47c5-48c2-a261-daadcf4d6c95-christmas-cheeseDare we say it but Christmas is now well on the way and it’s time to start thinking of all the festive goodies you’ll be able to indulge in in just a couple of months time. Yule tide seems to be creeping into autumn and no sooner is the sun cream and flip flops packed away than the tinsel and fairy lights are filling the supermarket shelves. We love Christmas and it’s no surprise that we also love Christmas cheeses. Whether it be a creamy blue Stilton, an oozing Camembert or something a little different like our Apple, Cinnamon and Raisin Lancashire, we have everything you’ll need to spread the Christmas cheer this year.

Tuxford & Tebbutt Stilton
A classic choice, this traditional blue Stilton has been made to the same recipe1V9A0088 using time honoured techniques since 1780. It is one of only six creameries in the world permitted to use the name Blue Stilton under the EU Protected Designation of Origin. Each cheese is matured individually and graded and turned by hand resulting in a delicious Stilton with rich and creamy flavours and a piquant finish.

Somerset Camembert
letterbox_resizeimage593x426xnXdgilhT5jA perfect treat for Christmas this Somerset Camembert from Lubborn Creamery, Cricket St Thomas is rich and creamy with a soft, edible rind. As it matures the curd softens and a buttery, yellow colour and full flavour develops. As a real treat try baking in the oven with some rosemary, garlic, thyme and maybe even some dried cranberries for that real festive flavour.

FD41066FHMCHEESERed Waxed Wensleydale and Cranberry 
Cranberries really come into their own over the Christmas period and this creamy Wensleydale is a welcome combination. Perfect as a gift for a cheese lover or great on a Christmas party cheeseboard this red waxed Wensleydale truckle from Ford Farm in Dorset is a sweet, fruity cheese with a rich creaminess and crumbly texture.

Christmas Apple, Cinnamon and Raisin 
Bowland31_1The clue’s in the name with this one, creamy Lancashire with apples and raisins and coated in cinnamon this makes a fantastic dessert cheese or is perfect for those with a sweeter tooth. A unique cheese with tangy, fruity flavours and a slightly crumbly texture it has both sweet and savory notes.

We hope you like the sound of some of these cheeses, however we have so much more in stock so head over to the cheese pages on our website http://www.iscafoods.co.uk/cheese/ or call 01392 661001 to request a Christmas brochure!

facebooktwitter

Warming Autumnal Recipes

Cold, crisp mornings, early evenings and golden leaves signal the beginning of autumn and autumn means soups, casseroles, pies and puddings, in short, it means the beginning of comfort food season which we love! We’ve listed a few of our favourite recipes that are perfect for this time of year.

madrasWe’ll start with a curry. A nice hot, spicy curry is enough to warm your cockles and you can even swap the beef in this recipe for some meats that are at their best this season such as pheasant and venison for that extra rich flavour. This is a quick and simple recipe and if you like your curry even hotter just add some fresh chillies, sliced or whole.

41S7GTkMlNL._AC_SX354_SY510_QL65_Ingredients:
1 onion, chopped
500g braising steak, cubed
2 tbsp sunflower oil
1 405g Goldfish Madras curry sauce

Method:
1: Heat the oil in a saucepan and add the chopped onion
2: Add the beef and fry until browned
3: Mix the Goldfish Madras Curry sauce with 300ml water and add it to the beef and onions. Cover and cook for 1 hour or until the beef is nice and tender. Serve with boiled rice and your choice of accompaniments.

ChinnsSausage_omlo-b1Halloween is well on the horizon now and if you have kids in the house you may already have started the pumpkin carving, this recipe uses up the delicious orange flesh inside and is easy to prepare; once everything is chopped and boiling you can leave the oven to do all the work and get on with carving those pumpkin faces.
Ingredients:
1 tbsp sunflower oil4069277079_79155c9468
8 W F Chinn Cumberland sausages
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tbsp fresh sage, chopped
1 small pumpkin, peeled, seeds removed and chopped
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 tin cannellini beans, drained
500ml chicken stock
salt and pepper to taste

Method:
1: Preheat the oven to 180 degrees, Gas mark 4
2: Heat the sunflower oil in a saucepan over a medium heat, add the sausage and fry for 4-5 minutes or until golden-brown
3: Add the onion and fry until softened then add the garlic and sage and cook for 3 minutes
4: Add the pumpkin and white wine vinegar, increase the heat and cook until most the liquid has evaporated
5: Add the tomatoes, cannellini beans, chicken stock, salt and pepper and bring to the boil
6: Transfer to a casserole dish and cook in the oven for 1 hour, the sausages should be cooked through and the pumpkin tender.

chorizo risottoA rich and hearty risotto to warm you up this autumn, this recipe has very few ingredients and is a great quick meal you can have on the table in half an hour. The paprika coated on our chorizo rings adds a lovely hint of heat, however if you want to add a little more some fresh chillies work well or a splash of chilli sauce such as Tabasco.

chorizosartaIngredients:
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
100g chorizo, sliced
20g dried parsley
750ml chicken stock
1 tin chopped tomatoes
300g risotto rice
200ml red wine

Method:
1: Heat the oil in a frying pan, add the onion and garlic and cook until softened.
2: Add the chorizo and cook until it begins releasing its oils
3: In another pan heat the stock and chopped tomatoes together
4: Add the risotto rice to the onion and chorizo pan and cook for 1-2 minutes, then add the red wine
5: Stir and cook until most of the wine has evaporated and then add the hot stock and tomatoes a ladle at a time, stirring well each time. Only add more stock once the previous ladle is almost absorbed. You may not need all of the mixture.
6: Once cooked the rice should be tender but with a slight bite. Add some parmesan and fresh parsley to serve.

facebooktwitter

All About Brie

somerset brie-228x228A soft cheese named after the French region from which it originated, Brie is a much loved classic, the most famous being Brie de Meaux and Brie de Melun which both have protected designation of origin status however unlike its English contemporaries such as Farmhouse Cheddar and Stilton, the generic name Brie was not protected and is now used to describe any soft, bloomy rinded cheese. There are now many varieties available all over the world, a few are also made here in the South West and we’ve listed some of our favourites below.

Somerset Brie
Made by Lubborn Creamery in the lush valley of Cricket St Thomas, this brie is made to traditional methods, allowing it to soften and ripen from the outside in and develop its fresh creamy flavours and soft, edible white rind. Pasteurised and suitable for vegetarians this is one of our best selling Bries.

Sharpham2465
Hand made using unpasteurised Jersey cows milk on Sharpham Dairy in Totnes, South Devon this mould-ripened Coulommiers style cheese has unique rich, buttery flavours and a soft, creamy texture. It is matured for four weeks during which time it grows its edible bloomy rind and gradually ripens from chalky to soft and gooey.

Tim_Schofield_Photo_150520-83 (1)St Endellion
A decadent version of classic Cornish Brie the St Endellion is enriched with locally made double cream for a rich, full bodied flavour. Made by the team at Trevarrian Creamy near Newquay the texture softens as it ripens and the cheese develops its characteristic golden colour, soft pale rind and deliciously creamy interior.

Any of these Bries are a perfect addition to cheeseboards, their soft, creamy texture makes an interesting contrast to the hard cheese options. Sharpham in particular is great melted on roasted vegetables and the St Endellion makes a fantastic dessert cheese while the Somerset Brie is delicious baked in the oven with some rosemary. However you like your Brie try one of these and we promise you won’t be disappointed.

facebooktwitter