The last few months have been, to use the word of the moment, unprecedented. We are proud to have been able to continue to supply our customers throughout the pandemic and our staff have been working incredibly hard to make this possible. Below we look at the ‘new normal’ for Isca Foods.
Back in March we began seeing the effects of panic buying as customers who wouldn’t normally use their local community or farm shop began relying heavily on them when supermarkets had low stock levels. Shopping locally and supporting local businesses and producers is our central ethos and, while we regret that the support needed came in this way, we are glad that more people than ever are discovering their own local shop. We hope that once this is over, these new found customers will continue to support their local businesses rather than reverting back to the supermarket.
With many people self isolating and unable to visit supermarkets we began home deliveries. This started with our MD Liam and his wife Hannah leafleting in their local area after discovering the demand their neighbours were experiencing and spring-boarded from there. We added this to the routes our vans would be doing day to day and developed a separate price list for private deliveries. Our team boxed up these orders as normal and our drivers delivered them to the doorstep of customers. This demand has eased somewhat in recent weeks as supermarkets have put in safety measures and social distancing rules however at a time when local people were struggling we like to think that we helped to make a difference.
Our sister company Orchardlea Occasion Foods (run by the aforementioned Hannah) recently launched their range of delicious hampers. Prior to the outbreak the business focused on providing food for all occasions and events from weddings and christenings to birthday parties and business lunches. However from mid March many of these events were cancelled or postponed and as a result Hannah decided to diversify the business and added bespoke hampers to their portfolio. These can be delivered to yourself as a well deserved treat or as a gift for a much missed loved one during lock down. The new ‘Pub Lunch’ hamper has just been added to the range which can include: Bays Brewery beer, Sandford Orchard cider or Sandford Orchard fresh pressed apple juice, a selection of West Country cheeses, Cradoc’s savoury biscuits, Waterhouse Fayre chutney, Chunk of Devon pasty, Burts crisps, Cornish Olive Stall olives, pork scratchings, pork pie and a selection of sliced meats as well as anything else that takes your fancy from our own range of products. Hampers are bespoke and put together to order so can be truly personalised to yours or the intended recipients favourites. Visit their Facebook page or website for more info.
This is a strange time for all of us and like many businesses we are adapting to ever changing customer needs and requirements. There is always more that can be done to make things easier for everyone, but we like to think that we have made a good start.
This National Vegetarian Week we are celebrating the humble vegetable: from the new vegetarian and vegan biscuits from Cradoc’s Savoury Biscuits to Olive’s Kitchen’s frozen ready meals to our selection of vegetarian friendly cheeses and Delphi dips and salads, we’ve got everything you’ll need to enjoy National Vegetarian Week!
Cradoc’s Savoury Biscuits
These new savoury biscuits are already proving a hit with our customers. A small, family business based in the Brecon Beacons, Cradoc’s have been baking their crisp biscuits for the last 10 years using only natural ingredients. The majority are suitable for vegans while some contain cheese and are vegetarian friendly. Flavours include Beetroot & Garlic: an attractive dusky pink cracker flavoured with fragrant garlic and savoury beetroot with a delightful peppery finish (if you hadn’t guessed this is one of our favourites!), Chilli & Ginger: turmeric crackers with cumin, black pepper and nigella seeds combined with subtle red chillies and bold ginger flavours and Cheddar & Onion Chutney: golden baked crackers with pickled onions and sweet chutney mixed with traditional Cheddar. These are all available in 80g packs with a minimum order of three boxes. Click here to view the whole range.
Olive’s Kitchen Frozen Meals
We love the ease and convenience of a frozen meal and the vegetarian varieties available are both satisfying and tasty whilst being packed full of healthy goodness. Olive’s Kitchen is made up of husband and wife team Charlie and Nikki Allhusen who swapped running a successful deli for cooking homemade gourmet meals from their purpose built kitchen in Sherbourne, Dorset. The Butternut Squash lasagne is a classic favourite among both our customers and staff and it’s easy to see why. The roasted butternut squash is sweet and buttery with a creamy ricotta and spinach filling layered with fresh pasta and a tomato and basil sauce and finally topped with mozzarella and parmesan. The Aubergine Parmigiana is full of deliciously rich and more-ish flavours and combines grilled aubergines with a hearty tomato and basil sauce topped with a crisp mozzarella and parmesan crust. These are both available in single 300-320g portions and the whole Olive’s Kitchen range is available to view here.
Delphi Dips and Salads
Delphi dips are the perfect accompaniment to a vegetarian feast, we love their Lemon & Coriander houmous with lightly spiced falafel or the red kidney bean salad mixed with peppers and sun-ripened tomatoes with olive oil, mint and mixed herbs for lunch, the crunchy coleslaw as part of a cheese ploughmans and the char-grilled vegetable cous cous as part of a Middle Eastern inspired dinner. Delphi Foods are a family business based in London who began selling specialised foods from Greece and Cyprus in 1960 and evolved into the award-winning brand we know today. Available in individual pots ranging from 160g-200g click here to view the whole Delphi range.
Happy National Vegetarian Week!
We have been thinking about how to maximise simple store cupboard ingredients to create nutritious, tasty food during this strange period of self isolation. Our staples include natural yogurt, chorizo and of course cheese! Read on to discover more.
Natural yogurt is an extremely versatile ingredient and can be used in anything from breakfast oats to a marinade for chicken to spicy sriracha dressings and creamy potato salads. We stock the deliciously thick and creamy Sutton Lucy natural yogurt in both 500g and 140g pots depending on your needs as well as the low fat Langage Farm natural and Greek-style yogurts both available in 450g pots. Why not try this delicious Indian-style spiced chicken recipe or these quick and easy overnight oats for a tasty and nutritious breakfast alternative?
Chorizo is one of our favourite ingredients to cook with for it’s wonderful smoky flavour and the delicious richness it adds to any dish from stews to burgers and baked eggs to tacos. We stock both authentic Hot Chorizo rings finished with smoked paprika available in 200g rings and sliced retail packed chorizo available in 110g packs with an average of eight slices per pack. This recipe for Prawn and Chorizo Jambalaya is quick and easy to prepare and bursts with Cajun inspired flavours while this Butter Bean & Chorizo stew is warm and hearty and with only four ingredients it can be on the table in only 20 minutes!
It will come as no surprise to learn that we absolutely love cheese, from creamy Brie to tangy Stilton, lemony goats cheese and local gems like the Garlic Yarg from Lynher Dairies and of course traditional farmhouse Cheddar. From classic ham and cheese toasties to luxurious baked Camembert and summery Greek salad with feta or grilled haloumi cheese is the ultimate ingredient to enrich and enliven multiple dishes. Why not try this 70’s take on a classic toastie with rich mature Cheddar, pickled pineapple and fiery sriracha or this baked Camembert with rosemary and garlic is a deliciously comforting treat.
Tried any of these recipes? Tag us in your creations using via our social media pages below!
Today is the start of National Butchers’ Week, a celebration of the skills and services of independent butchers throughout the country.
Butchers have traditionally been a town staple along with greengrocers, bakeries and post offices. Today these have mostly been compiled into supermarkets and many towns no longer benefit from the one-to-one interaction with their butcher. In the 1990’s the Meat Trades Journal reported that there were 22,000 butchers in the UK, by 2010 this had dropped to 7,100.
However recent food trends including increased concern over trace-ability and, amid growing climate concerns, the need for quality over quantity in our meat, have resulted in a resurgence in traditional butchers. Below we look at three local butchers and their products.
Tim Potter Family Butchers
Established in March 1996 Tim Potter Family Butchers began with just 3 members of staff, today there are 9 including son Christopher and daughter Katie who now runs the Katie’s Pantry part of the business.
Committed to supplying the best quality meats to their customers Tim Potter provide a range of products including traditional beef, lamb and pork joints as well as award-winning sausages and their own seasoned kebabs and BBQ range. They also stock a range of locally sourced cheeses, butters and deli products. The business credits its success on its focus on local produce, fantastic customer service and selling quality meat at realistic prices.
Clive Downs Butchers
Situated in Porlock in Somerset Clive Downs Butchers was established over 20 years ago and has been managed by Derek Weeks, an experienced butcher who has worked in the trade for 40 years, since 2017. Their products include locally sourced lamb, beef and various game as well as handmade sausages including venison with redcurrant and pork with tomato and basil. Clive Downs also supply a number of Chunk of Devon pies such as the Chicken & Bacon and the Steak & Ale.
Lloyd Maunder – West Country Family Butchers
The eponymous Lloyd Maunder took over his father’s butchers shop in Witheridge in 1898. He then proceeded to expand the business by selling meat and dairy products to customers in London and became one of the first major suppliers to Sainsbury’s. The first Lloyd Maunder shop opened in 1913 in Tiverton and today there are 14 branded shops throughout the South West. Their product range includes traditional lamb, beef and pork as well as their popular ‘meat for a week’ deals and dinner party selections. Many of the shops now have deli counters serving local artisan cheeses, salads, pies and marinated meats which are proving popular with their customers.
There are many other fantastic family owned butchers that we could have mentioned here and this can only be a sign of the continued success of the traditional butcher. Happy National Butchers’ Week!
We couldn’t get through a whole British Pie Week without mentioning Chunk of Devon. These pie and savoury producers have been making their award-winning pies since 2006 at ‘the pie factory’ in Ottery St Mary. The combination of locally sourced ingredients and rich, buttery pastry results in some truly delicious pies. We asked members of the Isca Foods team what their favourite pies in the range were:
Liam – Managing Director – Chicken & Bacon Pie
This creamy chicken pie is a classic favourite among our staff and indeed the nation. In a study conducted by Jus-Rol last year to find out Britain’s favourite pies the Chicken & Bacon came in at number 9. Succulent chicken breast and thigh combined with smoked bacon and leeks in a creamy white wine sauce make this pie a delicious treat.
Tracey – Food Picker – Spicy Jack Pie
The Spicy Jack Pie is the newest addition to the Chunk range. Packed with jack fruit, squash, peppers and sweet potato this lightly spiced pie is bursting with flavour and, now wrapped in wholewheat pastry, is suitable for vegans!
Karl – Floor Supervisor – Steak and Stilton Pie
The Steak & Stilton has already been mentioned this week so it’s no surprise that it comes up as one of our staff favourites. This pie is made with quality beef, tangy Stilton and buttery garlic mushrooms and is wrapped in delicious short crust pastry. What more could you want from a pie?
Bethany – Administrator – Kickin’ Chicken Curry Pie
This pie has been a huge hit with our customers since its introduction a few years ago. Tender chicken chunks are cooked in a light and creamy curry sauce with onions, peppers and potato and wrapped in buttery shortcrust pastry. The filling is full of flavour with a slight kick for lovers of spicy curries!
For the whole of March we will be running a promotion on the Chunk of Devon Homity pies to celebrate Pie Week! This delicious vegetarian pie is filled with potato, mature Cheddar cheese, onion and garlic and topped with more West Country Cheddar cheese. Get in touch for full details!
Click here to view the whole Chunk of Devon range of pies, pasties and savouries. Happy Pie Week!
It’s British Pie Week! To celebrate we are posting recipes for our five favourite pie fillings all this week from Steak & Stilton to Goats Cheese & Butternut Squash. Today’s pie is an old fashioned Fish Pie.
This creamy, cheesy mash topped pie is a bit different from our other recipes. We’ve used smoked haddock, smoked salmon and cod but really this can be made with any fish you like. The mash is enhanced with butter and mature Cheddar as well as breadcrumbs and parmesan for a deliciously crunchy topping.
Ingredients (serves 4):
400g potatoes (preferably Maris Piper), peeled and cut into chunks
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp plain flour
1 tsp Dijon mustard
200g mature Cheddar, grated
150g cod, cut into chunks
150g smoked haddock, cut into chunks
100g smoked salmon, sliced
1 tbsp breadcrumbs
1 tbsp parmesan, grated
1: Put the potatoes in a saucepan, add freshly boiled water and salt and bring to the boil. Simmer for 15-20 minutes until tender, drain and leave to cool.
2: Heat the butter in a saucepan over a low heat, add the flour and stir to a paste. Gradually whisk in the milk and simmer for 3-4 minutes stirring regularly. Then add the mustard and half of the grated Cheddar.
3: Add the fish and stir to combine with the sauce. Cook for 8-10 minutes.
4: Heat the grill and mash the potatoes to your liking with the rest of the grated Cheddar.
5: Transfer the fish mix to a heatproof dish and top with the mashed potatoes. Add the breadcrumbs and parmesan and grill for 10-15 minutes or until the top has turned golden brown. Serve immediately.
Tried this recipe? Tag us in your creations via our social media pages below
It’s British Pie Week! To celebrate we are posting recipes for our five favourite pie fillings all this week from Steak & Stilton to Goats Cheese & Butternut Squash. Today’s pie is a classic Steak & Stilton.
This is a classic for a reason, tender steak, hearty gravy and tangy blue Stilton all wrapped in buttery pastry. This is a comforting winter dish, guaranteed to warm you up this week.
Ingredients (serves 4):
400g braising steak, cut into cubes
25g plain flour
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion, diced
1 bay leaf
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 tbsp dried thyme
400ml beef stock, made using 1 stock cube
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 pack ready made puff pastry
1 egg, beaten
Salt and pepper
1: Put the steak in a bowl and toss together with the flour.
2: Heat the oil in a non stick sauce pan and fry until lightly browned. Transfer to a plate.
3: Add more oil to the pan if necessary and fry the onion and garlic until softened.
4: Return the beef to the pan and add the stock, bay leaf, thyme and carrots. Season with salt and pepper and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer for 1 hr 30 minutes or until the beef is tender. This can be done in advance.
5: Remove the bay leaf and crumble in the Stilton.
6: Pre heat the oven to 200C, Gas Mark 6.
7: Prepare a floured surface. Halve the pastry and roll into 2 balls. Take 1 and roll it out to the thickness of a £1 coin and the correct size diameter for your pie dish. Do the same for the lid.
8: Line your pie dish with the pastry and spoon in the filling, brush the rim with egg and add the lid. Trim the edges and crimp together to seal. Make a small hole in the centre and brush with the remaining egg.
9: Bake for 30-40 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown. Serve immediately.
Tried this recipe? Tag us in your foodie creations via our social media pages below
It’s British Pie Week! To celebrate we are posting recipes for our five favourite pie fillings all this week from Steak & Stilton to Goats Cheese & Butternut Squash. Today’s pie is another favourite: Butternut Squash, Spinach & Goats Cheese.
This pie is our go-to vegetarian pie, the combination of savoury goats cheese with sweet roasted butternut squash is a delicious take on the traditional Greek dish Spanakopita, a feta and spinach filo pie. The filo is intensely crisp and more-ish whilst being super easy to prepare.
Ingredients (serves 4):
1 butternut squash, peeled and cut into cubes
2 red onions, sliced
1 garlic clove, crushed
½ tsp chilli flakes
400g fresh spinach leaves
200g goats cheese, crumbled
4 sheets filo pastry
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper
1: Pre-heat the oven to 220C, Gas Mark 7 and add 1 tbsp olive oil to a roasting dish.
2: Place the squash, onions, garlic and chilli flakes into the roasting dish and mix together well, ensuring an even covering of spices and oil. Roast for 30 minutes or until lightly browned.
3: Meanwhile wilt the spinach: put the spinach in a pan of just boiled water for 1 minute. Remove and immediately place in a bowl of iced water. Set aside.
4: Remove the roasting dish from the oven and tip contents into your pie dish, add the spinach and goats cheese and stir to combine.
5: Brush the filo sheets with the remaining olive oil and layer onto the top of the pie dish until completely covered, scrunch up the ends.
6: Bake for 30-40 minutes or until the pastry is crisp and golden. Serve immediately.
Tried this recipe? Tag us in your creations via our social media pages below
It’s British Pie Week! To celebrate we will be posting recipes for our five favourite pie fillings all this week from Steak & Stilton to Goats Cheese & Butternut Squash. Today’s pie is a personal favourite: Chicken & Chorizo.
This pie came about from a love of chorizo in and on anything. The sherry adds a delicious sweetness and the parsley and cream make the filling incredibly more-ish. Topped with a shortcrust pastry lid some people would argue that this is technically not a pie however we believe that the flavour speaks for itself. Trust us and try for yourself following the recipe below.
Ingredients (serves 4):
8 chicken thighs, cut into chunks
1 tbsp sunflower oil
200g chorizo, diced
25g plain flour
1 onion, diced
100ml dry sherry
140ml single cream
2 tbsp dried parsley
400ml chicken stock
Salt and pepper
250g self-raising flour
150g beef or vegetable suet
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 egg, beaten
1: Heat the oil in a saucepan and add the chicken. Cook until brown and transfer to a plate.
2: Add the onion and chorizo to the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes or until the onions begin to turn slightly orange from the chorizo oil. Stir in the flour and then add the sherry. Bring to the boil and allow to boil for 2 minutes or until most of the liquid has evaporated.
3: Return the chicken to the pan and add the stock, parsley and seasoning. Cover with a lid and simmer for 30 minutes.
4: Meanwhile prepare the pastry. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl and add cold water, 1 tbsp at a time until a dough begins to form. Roll into a ball, cover and chill for 20 minutes.
5: Pre-heat the oven to 200C, Gas Mark 6.
6: Once the chicken is tender add the cream to the pan and stir. Turn up the heat and allow some of the liquid to evaporate, resulting in a white sauce consistency.
7: Roll out the pastry on a floured surface to around ½cm thick.
8: Transfer the filling to a pie dish and top with the pastry. Seal the edges using your fingers to crimp the pastry into the dish. Make a small hole in the centre to allow air to escape. Brush with the egg and bake for 40-45 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown. Serve immediately.
Tried this recipe? Tag us in your pie creations via our social media pages below
This time last year the first vegan cheese shop in the UK opened its doors. La Fauxmagerie was immediately hit with a media storm when Dairy UK, the dairy industry trade association, sent a letter requesting that owners Charlotte and Rachel Stevens stop describing their products as cheese because it was potentially misleading to customers.
A year on and the number of people turning to vegan and plant based diets is continually rising with many abstaining from meat and dairy in a bid to halt the inevitable environmental impact of farming and agriculture.
This year Veganuary – a nonprofit organisation that encourages people to go vegan for the month of January – reported that over 400,000 people registered to take part compared to 250,000 in 2019. This success is due in part to the rise in availability of vegan products in supermarkets, restaurants and take-away outlets. KFC in particular posted that one million of their new vegan burgers were sold in the first month of sale, the equivalent of one every three seconds. But while plant based burgers have now hit the mainstream vegan cheese seems to have been left behind.
This could be because unlike their ‘meat’ counterparts many vegan cheeses have failed to emulate the taste, texture and appearance of traditional cheeses with many described as being bland, and ‘plasticky’. However some brands are beginning to experiment with new ingredients and ‘ageing’ methods as well as developing bacterial cultures similar to those used in the dairy industry.
We have just begun to stock a Cheddar style vegan cheese from Nature & Moi, a French company specialising in dairy free, plant based food. This cheese arrived early last week and was duly cut and tasted by everyone. The verdict?
To preface we are all very much not vegan; we love cheese and our Cheddar range, being mostly from Devon and the West Country, is of excellent quality (if we do say so ourselves!). So this cheese had a lot to live up to.
The texture of the Nature & Moi Cheddar is smooth and supple and while not completely replicating the dense, richness of traditional Cheddar, this one did a fairly good job. The flavours are mild and slightly nutty with a mellow creaminess reminiscent of a very mild cheddar. Overall we thought that this cheese was “not at all bad” which, coming from a group of hardcore cheese lovers, was high praise indeed.
Click here to view the Nature & Moi cheese on our website for more info.