Spring grafting of fruit trees

As our forest garden develops we are always looking for ways to increase the diversity and the number of the best performing species. This will enable more of our own grown ingredients to be available for our guests in the years to come.

Fruit trees tend not to develop true to type when grown from seed. Instead they are best propagated by effectively “cloning” by grafting a piece of last years growth onto a selected rootstock. We have used this technique over the last few years to propagate more of our best apple trees and also with an interesting twist to graft pear, quince and medlar onto native hawthorn.

A first year Red Windsor apple having been grafted in March 2018 and planted direct into a nursery bed . This picture taken in the drought summer of 2018! The tree is quite happy surrounded by strawberries and currant bushes!

A first year Red Windsor apple having been grafted in March 2018 and planted direct into a nursery bed . This picture taken in the drought summer of 2018! The tree is quite happy surrounded by strawberries and currant bushes!

Grafting is essentially a simple process although success depends on following some simple rules. There are a good number of useful resources available on YouTube and most of my learning came from the excellent videos by Stephen Hayes of Fruitwise

The basic principle is to join a piece of our chosen tree (the scion wood) onto a suitable root stock. Root-stocks are inexpensive (a few pounds each) and best bought from specialist nurseries such as Ashridge or Keepers Nursery. The form of the graft depends on the relative size of the scion and the rootstock but I have mainly used cleft and rind grafts. Following the simple rules expounded by Stephen Hayes my success rate has been 80-90%.

Scion and rootstock (Apple M106 which will produce a semi vigorous tree of up to 4m in height)

Scion and rootstock (Apple M106 which will produce a semi vigorous tree of up to 4m in height)

The pictures below show some of the grafting process. This is a saddle graft and once located onto the root stock it is wrapped tightly in strips from a plastic bag (specialist grafting tape can be used!).

Satisfying to get harvests! The first apples could be expected in the third year after creating a new tree from grafting.

As large areas of our plot are left fairly wild to encourage wild flowers, trees and shrubs we get a lot of “volunteer” hawthorn. It has been interesting to use these to graft to hopefully produce productive trees in the future.

Being all part of the Rosaceae family Quince, Pear and Medlar can be grafted onto hawthorn. Our local hawthorn, Common Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna) is well adapted to our climate. This was demonstrated well through the summer of 2018 where with very little rain the hawthorn nevertheless flourished.  A successful graft gets a great start with an excellent natural root stock and as it’s already established gives the new plant a head start. The videos below show some of the process.

Recipes for a delicious locally sourced dinner party

Catering for guests in your own home can be a daunting prospect. However, with some “cheffy” tricks of the trade a lot of the stress can be removed with most preparation the day before. This ensures an impressive dinner party whilst ensuring your guests are not neglected.

With this is mind we have prepared some of our favourite dishes and presented these with recipes and some pictures.

On Saturday 26th January 2019 our Head Chef Lee and Peter Moulam cooked these dishes live on Radio Sheffield.

Kat’s Kitchen a popular Radio Sheffield broadcast

Kat’s Kitchen a popular Radio Sheffield broadcast


Menu

The PJ taste Sheffield Egg served with a winter salad of local grown miners lettuce and foraged dandelion

Chicken ballotine stuffed with Stanage Millstone Cheese and PJ taste preserved local heritage tomatoes

A light PJ taste honey and rosemary sponge served with lemon curd and spun sugar.


First Course - Salad of The Sheffield Egg with seasonal salad

The Sheffield Egg is a big eat so we would recommend serving half per person as a starter. Recently we have been serving with a winter salad dressed a vinaigrette made with our own elderberry vinegar. Its amazing how salad like miners lettuce, mibuna and red dragon mustard survive quite severe frosts. If you are brave you can even add foraged dandelion which can still be found in good quantities right through the winter.

The Sheffield Egg is a big eat so we would recommend serving half per person as a starter. Recently we have been serving with a winter salad dressed a vinaigrette made with our own elderberry vinegar. Its amazing how salad like miners lettuce, mibuna and red dragon mustard survive quite severe frosts. If you are brave you can even add foraged dandelion which can still be found in good quantities right through the winter.

The Sheffield Egg – to make 4

Ingredients

4 Local free range eggs
For the coating::
72g breadcrumbs soaked in 60ml vegetable stock
60g PJ taste pickle (or use your favourite)
80g grated Fountains Gold Yorkshire Cheddar cheese
200g Moss Valley pork sausage meat
1 tsp Henderson Relish

To finish:
Dish of equal quantities of toasted breadcrumbs, sesame, pumpkin and sunflower seeds for coating
Dish of 1 egg mixed with 100ml milk

Method
Prepare a baking tray of the coating mixture by toasting in the oven a mixture of breadcrumbs, pumpkin, sesame and sunflower seeds until nicely coloured. Briefly blend to form a crumbs fine enough to coat the eggs but still having some texture.

Boil a pan of salted water using enough to easily cover 4 eggs.
Once boiling carefully lower the eggs into the water and immediately start your timer for 6 minutes. You are wanting to achieve a runny centre to the yolks.

After 6 minutes remove the pan and after pouring off the hot water leave under a running cold tap to cool the eggs as quickly as possible. Once cool carefully peel – the eggs will be quite soft so go carefully.

Divide the coating mixture into four equal balls. Using wet hands press the balls into a flat circle and carefully place around the eggs sealing the edges to ensure no gaps.

To finish dip in the egg/milk and then in a mix of toasted breadcrumb, and seed mix mix to form a “shell”. Ideally using a rounded silicon mould (to help keep the shape) bake in a pre-heated oven at 200 degrees until the pork coating is cooked to 75 degrees.

Cool and then store. Will keep refrigerated for a maximum of three days including the day of production.

Chicken Ballotine stuffed with Stanage Millstone Cheese and Heritage Tomatoes

The ballotine is stuffed with local cheese and tomatoes. As part of our drive towards a zero waste kitchen we have been recently using tomatoes preserved from last year. We simply use a dehydrator to preserve heritage tomatoes from Sheffield Organic Growers

The ballotine is stuffed with local cheese and tomatoes. As part of our drive towards a zero waste kitchen we have been recently using tomatoes preserved from last year. We simply use a dehydrator to preserve heritage tomatoes from Sheffield Organic Growers

Ingredients

  • Four 7oz/200g Chicken breasts

  • 6oz/175g Stanage Millstone Cheese

  • 3.5oz/100g Preserved heritage tomatoes 0r sun-dried tomatoes

  • 2 little gem lettuce (each cut in half)

  • 150ml white wine, 200ml single cream and parsley for sauce

  • 1/4 finely diced onion

  • 15 new potatoes - to be boiled and crushed for the garnish

  • Some herbs for garnish, we added Saltbush a perennial plant grown on our plot

Make an incision into the “fat” end of the chicken breast and using the knife blade make a pocket to stuff with the seasoned tomato and cheese mix. Wrap in cling film and tie each end ready to poach in water. The chicken breast can be poached the day before your dinner - ideally a temperature probe should used to ensure the centre reaches above 75C degrees. These should then be cooled as rapidly as possible prior to refrigeration.

On the night of your dinner they can be re-heated by cooking in a hot pan with oil and butter. (Please ensure the cooking time allows the centre to reach a piping hot temperature). Remove the chicken to rest whilst you cook the lettuce and make the sauce.

Fry the halved little gem lettuce in the same pan to gently wilt adding some additional butter. Again remove and keep warm.

For the sauce simply soften the onion in the remaining pan juices, “deglaze” the pan with the white wine allowing it to reduce by one third. Add the cream and chopped parsley and check the seasoning. You can at this stage “monte au beurre” which means adding chilled cubes of butter, swirling then into the sauce to achieve a rich and silky smooth finish.

Serve with crushed new potatoes, cutting the chicken in half and arranging with the sauce and your chosen herb garnishes.

Steamed sponge with PJ taste honey and local grown rosemary with lemon curd and spun sugar

decorated with a spun sugar nest adds the wow factor!

decorated with a spun sugar nest adds the wow factor!

The sponge can be made as one large sponge in a pudding basin or as individual portions using smaller “dariole” moulds.

Lemon Curd: 175g/ 6oz of a quality lemon curd make or ideally make your own!

  • 175g/ 6oz butter softened

  • 140g/ 5oz caster sugar

  • 3 eggs

  • 175g/6oz self-raising flour

  • 1 tbsp milk

  • 1.5 tbsp local blossom honey

  • 2 tsp finely chopped fresh rosemary or thyme

Generously grease your pudding basin or individual moulds.

Put the lemon curd into the bottom of the single or split between the individual moulds. Put the ingredients for the sponge in a food processor and blend until smooth (but don’t overwork the mix), then tip into the pudding basin or split between the individual moulds. Cover with a lid made of baking parchment and foil, and tie with string. Stand the pudding on the upturned bowl in a saucepan and pour in enough hot water to come halfway up the side of the pudding basin. Set over a medium heat and bring to the boil. Cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid, lower the heat to a gentle simmer and leave to steam for 2½ hrs or 30 minutes for individual moulds, topping up with boiling water if the level gets too low.

To decorate your plates add “pools” of a local fruit puree, crème fraiche and dehydrated fruit along with a spun sugar nest or spun sugar shards.

N.B. Spun sugar is a “cheffy” trick which is easier than it may seem! Simply melt 175g/ 6oz caster sugar in a pan bringing to the boil without stirring. Once a caramel colour take off the heat and for shards pour onto a greased baking tray breaking into shards once set. For a fancy basket drizzle the caramel over the base of a greased ladle again leaving to set before removing.

Theatre of Dreams - Sheffield Food Festival 2018

An excellent event all round The Sheffield Food Festival 2018 had at its heart the Theatre Kitchen which featured three full days of chef presentations, demonstrations and general fun.  We were particularly keen to see our Head Chef, Lee Mangles compete in a Ready Steady Cook style contest with Chris Hanson from Blend Sheffield.

Chris Hanson from Blend Sheffield, and Lee Mangles from PJ taste line up with representatives from Food Cycle and compère Justin Rowntree from SweetSpot Hospitality Consulting 

Chris Hanson from Blend Sheffield, and Lee Mangles from PJ taste line up with representatives from Food Cycle and compère Justin Rowntree from SweetSpot Hospitality Consulting 

In the event the session turned out to be a great education for us all about some of the excellent community food initiatives taking place in Sheffield.  Justin Rowntree from Sweetspot Hospitality Consulting did an entertaining and at the same time informative job of controlling the chefs and linking up with representatives from Food Cycle.

After receiving a bag of beautiful seasonal vegetables from Food Cycles the Chefs quickly put together their thoughts on a menu.  Both decided on two dishes, Lee a slightly more simple chargrilled asparagus and halloumi stater with a Thia curry and Chris with an ambitious bread making challenge.  This he was pairing with homemade baked beans and a courgette fritter.

As the Chefs got to work we heard from Food Cycle.  In Sheffield they currently have projects at Gleadless, Firth Park and Lowedges as well as Sharrow and St Barts.  Using donated food and volunteers they produce meals for homeless people and others in local communities.  It was clear that this is done with great passion by all the people involved and helps bring food in as a highly positive social tool both in its consumption and preparation.  They are keen to attract more volunteers and people who wish to be involved through donation of food or simply to take part in the whole community aspect.

FoodFestival2018-Lee-PJtaste-FoodCycle-TheatreKitchen.JPG

With time running out the Chefs started to plate up.  Justin putting Chris off his train of thought (and perhaps slightly cheekily pointing out that Chris was not good at mutli-tasking) questioned him about his forthcoming restaurant opening.  Blend soon to be on Pinstone Street on the site of the old Fusion shop, is a social enterprise with a vision to use cuisine and hospitality enhance people's lives.  Chris shared his passion for the venture and we were able to meet some of the staff who are having the opportunity of employment and a way into work that they may not normally be afforded.  We wish Chris and his team all the best for their opening.

Having been impressed by the community work going on around us the result of the contest was becoming less important than the overall celebration of food.  However, for the record the appointed judge on the day awarded a narrow victory to Lee, despite Chris's heroic and impressive effort at producing flat bread as well as his two dishes in half an hour!

A big thanks to the contestants, Food Cycle the Sheffield Food Festival and Justin for providing such great entertainment.

Upstairs at PJ taste - the vision

Our beautiful dining and event space is has being created by carefully refurbishing the first floor at our premises at 54 Staniforth Road, Sheffield, S9 3HB.  With the original building dating back to at least 1870 we have uncovered the original timber trusses taking the ceiling up to the apex of the roof to give a fresh, airy feel.  An ideal meeting venue to get those creative juices going.

TablesFromPallets_PJtaste.JPG

The room will be furnished with beautiful tables being handmade from reused pallets by the Daniel Bros at the Portland Works in Sheffield.  The organic feel of this wood will picked up in the cladding of the main curved wall with subtle coloured led lighting reflecting the seasons.  Large globe pendant lights, being a reference to the buildings original incarnation as a billiard hall, along with discrete full sound and av system (being manufactured in Staniforth Road by Cloud Electronics) give the space great flexibility.  Our architects, Burnell Briercliffe in Sheffield, have worked hard to consider sustainability issues in the choice of materials.  The insulation is sustainable wood and all the paints will contain no volatile organic compounds.

Accommodating up to 100 people for a fully seated banquet or 150 people for more informal events our values of handmade, locally sourced and seasonal food will be the cornerstone of the menus.  Fully licensed we would like to feature our own specialities such as cider made from our own apples and perhaps even a Staniforth Road beer flavoured with our local grown Prima Donna hops.  However, guests will be able to create their own themes and menus and work with us to ensure their event is totally unique.

Wood Fired Pizza

We are enjoying using our wood fired pizza oven this year, concentrating on producing really authentic thin and crispy pizzas.  Using our own sustainable wood and Yorkshire flour along with locally sourced toppings we aim to give our pizzas a true flavour of South Yorkshire and Derbyshire.

The video shows the pizza oven in action.