Church Farm Ardeley

A Free Range Experience

Leave a comment

New Chef, New Menus

Have you had a meal in the pub recently?  At the end of April I sat down with Aaron Clarke, the new executive chef for Church Farm, including the Jolly Waggoner, Café and Shop.  He was born and raised in Milton Keynes and came to us not long ago, and has brought along a team he has worked with for the past couple years.  He is producing menus for the pub and café, and producing food for the shop.

chef Aaron

His training has been on-the-job, including time with Michelin star chef Clive Dixon in Cookham at the White Oak and at the “best pub in England,” the Hand and Flowers in Marlow, and also told me that his brother, Shane, has been a huge influence on his career in catering. Aaron held a Rosette at the Deddington Arms in Oxfordshire.  He has been a chef for 10 years and has produced menus for seven years and comes to us with experience, enthusiasm, and a strong work ethic.

Aaron is confident that you will notice improvements at the Jolly Waggoner in the coming months, and would love to speak with you when you are in the pub.  His focus is the customer’s experience, and he wants you to have a good one.  He is committed to growth and improvement.

He wants everyone to know that the pub menu features produce from the farm and is the best it can be.  The quality of the ingredients in all our kitchens is assured, because we can see it all growing and grazing.  You will find a varied menu at the pub, with vegetarian and gluten free choices. He tells me there will be a new menu in the café soon, as well.

Perhaps I can tempt you with a sampling of items from the current pub menu:

Nibbles:  Lamb Scrumpets and Crispy Pork Bites

Starters:  Gin Cured Salmon and Cauliflower and Worcestershire Fritters

Traditional Classics:  Fish and Chips, and Chicken, Leek and Mushroom Pie

Mains:  Beetroot Rissoto, and Church Farm Loin of Lamb

Gin cured salmon

Gin Cured Salmon




Leave a comment

Carrot Cake

Laura - carrot cake 2017

One of our Co-Farmers has been working in the Church Farm Café kitchen on Thursdays.  She especially enjoys making carrot cake and would like to share her recipe:

Carrot Cake

2 tsp cinnamon
300g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
200g soft brown sugar
4 eggs
250 ml vegetable oil
200g grated carrot

Mix all ingredients and bake at 180° for about 40 minutes. Top with your favourite icing, maybe cream cheese.



Leave a comment

At the Jolly Waggoner

Join us for a musical guest landlord’s night on Friday 8th May when Happy Daze will be entertaining us with hits from the 60’s through to 2000’s.  10% of the takings will be going to their chosen charity.

With the sun in full swing over Easter we have seen continued growth in the garden we are particularly looking forward to harvest some of our newly planted pine berries—a quirk on the classic strawberry, it’s white with red seeds and has a mild taste of pineapple.

This month’s featured recipe is the field mushroom tower that was part of the recent weekend kitchen show on 3 Counties Radio that Adrian attended. (Podcast available on iPlayer.  Nick Coffer’s Weekend Kitchen, 19 April.)

Stuffed Field Mushroom Tower

4 large field mushrooms

50g grated strong cheddar

50g grated Stilton

50g grated Parmesan

50g diced feta

4 table spoons onion chutney

2 tomatoes sliced

2 table spoons oil

1/2 clove garlic (can be removed if preferred)

Salt and pepper

  1. Peel the mushrooms and remove the stalk
  2. Crush the garlic, mix with oil and drizzle over mushrooms
  3. Bake mushrooms for 8-10 minutes at 180° C
  4. Spread 1 table spoon of chutney into each mushroom, top with sliced tomato
  5. Sprinkle each mushroom with a generous layer of either cheddar and parmesan or Stilton and feta
  6. Bake in the oven for 10 mins or until cheese melted
  7. Stack one of each mushroom on top of each other and place in middle of plate
  8. Serve with smith dressed baby leaf salad

Leave a comment

Church Farm Mutton, Vegetable and Barley Stew

Did you see the post about eating lamb in spring?   Enjoy this recipe from our butcher, Tony Hopkins.

1kg shoulder or leg of Church Farm mutton, diced

3 tbsp plain flour

2 tbsp olive oil

15g butter

2 celery sticks, roughly sliced

1 leek, washed and roughly sliced

2 garlic cloves, crushed

2 carrots, roughly sliced

400g floury potatoes, roughly diced

400g swede, roughly diced

500ml fresh lamb stock, hot

400ml carrot juice

2 fresh sprigs each rosemary and thyme, plus extra to garnish

100g pearl barley

Preheat the oven to 180°C/Fan 160°C/Gas 4. Put the cubed mutton in a large bowl, add the flour and season. Toss well.

Put a large casserole over a high heat. Add the oil and brown the mutton in batches.

Turn the heat down to medium and add the butter. Stir in the celery, leek, garlic, carrots, potatoes and swede and toss well. Cook, stirring occasionally, until browning a little. Pour in the lamb stock and carrot juice, then add the rosemary and thyme. Bring to the boil, cover and cook in the oven for 2 1/2 hours, until tender.

Stir in the pearl barley 30 minutes before the end of the cooking time, so it absorbs the juices and becomes tender. The stew should be thick and juicy. Season, garnish with rosemary and thyme and serve with rustic bread.

1 Comment

Is Easter the best time to eat lamb?

leg of lambIn my opinion (I’m Tony, the butcher), lamb for Easter is all wrong.  While “spring lamb” has undoubted marketing appeal for supermarkets, spring is when lambs are meant to be born. So what are you eating? In fact, when you buy “spring lamb,” you get animals that were born in the autumn, specifically for the Easter market. Mostly they are reared indoors, with their mothers, who often continue to suckle them until they reach slaughter weight. Ewes and lambs will be turned out on spring grass in early March, but they’ll get only a couple of weeks to graze before they go to slaughter. The resulting meat, known in the trade as “suck lamb,” is sweet but pale and, I think, a bit porky.

So should we never eat lamb at Easter?  I often eat sheep—either mutton (an animal of two years or more) or, best of all for flavour and tenderness, hogget (a one-year-old in its second spring or summer). Both mutton and hogget animals should have a good covering of fat, which means they can be hung properly— 10-14 days is about right—after which they end up even more tender than lamb, and can be served pink. A few good butchers will sell you mutton and hogget, and both are available here at Church Farm or from our online shop.

So when is the best time to eat lamb, in the true sense of the word? During the summer months, in my opinion. February-and March-born lambs (look out for bottle feeding at the Farm soon) are invariably put out to graze within a few weeks of being born, and learn to eat grass, as well as their mother’s milk, before they are a month old. They exercise far more than indoor-reared lambs, which gives their meat a finer grain and more flavour. Slaughtered in the coming weeks, at five or six months old, their meat is still sweet, but much more rosy and vivacious. This is the flesh of animals that, though young, have lived a little, with grass under their feet and sun on their back.

Leave a comment

Swede and Bacon Pie

Christmas food!

Party nibbles, champagne, seafood bonanzas, magnificent meats in the form of geese, turkey, beef and more, puddings and cakes galore!



Now, I know, swede neither entices nor delights any of the senses normally. It’s large, woody looking root, that’s beige (never a good start) and is often left rattling around the veg cupboard because no one knows what to do with it.

Well, ladies and gentlemen, the swede should not be estimated. Coupled together with a few delicious rashers of Church Farm bacon, a garlic clove, and some flavoursome stock, swede takes on a whole new light!

Swede and bacon pie! Its an excellent winter warmer, and really show cases this root vegetable, an opportunity it seems to rarely get! And this is such a shame, as swede is very versatile. You can roast it, stew it, soup it, mash it (swede make excellent mash), chip it (yes, chip it! Sprinkle liberally with salt, pepper and parmesan for an alternative to potato wedges), and it keeps for ages. Just store in a cool place, and all is well in the land of the swede.

So, what you need is:

  • 1 x 350g pack Church Farm Bacon
  • 1 large swede
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 sprigs of thyme
  • 2 large carrots
  • 1 large onion
  • 2-3 potatoes
  • Grated cheddar cheese
  • 400ml chicken stock (home made is best but any good quality stock will do)


Fry off the garlic and onion in a little olive oil, add the bacon and brown. Dice the swede and carrot and add to the pan with the thyme leaves (strip them from the stalks) and season. Add the stock, and simmer for around 10 minutes or until the veg are tender.

Meanwhile, boil the potatoes in a pan of salted water, when al dente, drain and mash with plenty of salt and pepper. Transfer the veg mix to a pyrex pie dish, and add the mash topping. Sprinkle with cheese, and grill until the cheese has melted and is golden brown. Delicious!

Leave a comment

Sausage and Broccoli Pasta

I had the most stupendous dinner last night, it was a variation on a simple and staple dish from my student days. When you are poor and hidiously under nourished like the majority of students were at my university (all self inflicted of course, this is by no means a reflection on parents or educational bodies), anything involving anything green was a real boost for brain and body. So, on treat days, I bought broccoli!

Broccoli, a treat??? Believe me ladies and gentleman stranger things have happened. Broccoli stir fried with chopped up pork and leek sausages, and then stired into a big bowl of cheese smothered pasta. Whats not to be happy about?

Today, there are all sorts of broccoli that you can get your culinary mits on. Formerly known as the ‘five green fingers of jupiter’, varieties such as Purple sprouting, tender stem, and calabrese (which is the big headed bulbous thing that we all know and love) are now a common sight in markets. There is even a broccoli that looks like a cauliflower!

It is the quintessential green veg, very good for you, anyone under the age of twelve is bound to turn thier nose up at it, and its always part of a sunday roast. We Europeans have been blessed (or cursed) with the broccoli since the 1500s, and today there are many delicious ways to cook it beyond simply boiling it to death and slapping it alongside the cauliflower and carrots. You can use broccoli is Asian cusine, in soups, stews, pasta dishes, in all sorts!  It keeps really well too, just make sure it goes in the fridge as soon as you receive your box and it will be quite happy for about 4 days.

So, my dinner, that I am going to share with you all is as follows.

  • 1 pack pork and leek sausages
  • 2 garlic cloves sliced
  • 1 hot chilli, chopped
  • a head of calabrese or any other type of broccoli, florets halved for quicker cooking
  • 3 leeks sliced
  • about 250ml creme fraiche
  • teaspoon of wholegrain mustard
  • handful of chopped parsley


Fry off the chilli and gralic in a little olive oil, and chop the sausages into meatballs into the pan. Cook on a medium heat until the sausage balls are browned. Add the broccoli, and keep frying for about 6 minutes, stirring to keep all the sticky goodness from the bottom of your pan and coating the veg. Add the leeks and fry for another couple of minutes. Mix the mustard into the creme fraiche, and add to the pan, stirring to melt the sauce and coat all the ingredients. Add the parsely and stir for a final minute. Serve with spaghetti and top with parmesan cheese.

Can’t get much easier really can you, and it tastes great. Enjoy!

Fry off the garlic and onion in a little olive oil, add the bacon and brown. Dice the swede and carrot and add to the pan with the thyme leaves (strip them from the stalks) and season. Add the stock, and simmer for around 10 minutes or until the veg are tender.

Meanwhile, boil the potatoes in a pan of salted water, when al dente, drain and mash with plenty of salt and pepper. Transfer the veg mix to a pyrex pie dish, and add the mash topping. Sprinkle with cheese, and grill until the cheese has melted and is golden brown. Delicious!

Leave a comment

Creamed Leeks

Its cold, its miserable, its muddy…On top of that we all have some flu like disease which is leaving the vast majority of Church Farm staff in a state of zombification. We all need some hearty nutritious comfort food to warm the cockles and cheer the heart. Leeks are one of my favourites from the allium family. Like all alliums, they are so versatile, so easy to get hold of, and so tasty! You can’t beat a giant bowl of gut busting sausage and leek stroganoff; make sure you get good quality sausages, and add a big spoonful of paprika and lots of lemon juice to your sauce. A-ma-zing.

But today, I am going to showcase the leeks as this is the topic of today’s conversation. The recipe still involves a white dairy based product as the base of the sauce, but instead of crème fraiche, we have double cream. Oh yes ladies and gentleman, this is not one to try if you are watching those waistlines!

This is originally a James Martin recipe, and normally I wouldn’t tamper as I think he is a great chef, but over the years it has become my own just a little bit. You will need:


  • 4 leeks sliced relatively thinly
  • A few shallots diced
  • 2 garlic cloves chopped
  • 2 sprigs of thyme
  • 150ml white wine
  • 10 tablespoons of double cream (very precise I know, but cooking with cream and milk scares me, so I haven’t had the nerve to estimate so that I can just chuck it in yet!)
  • A big mix of grated cheddar and hard blue cheese
  • Small handful of chopped parsley
  • 1 beefsteak tomato thinly sliced


Melt some butter and a little olive oil in a pan, add the leeks, shallots, garlic and thyme and cook until softened. Pour in the white wine and bubble away for 5 minutes. Add the double cream, season with salt and pepper and gently simmer for another 5 minutes. Transfer the mixture to an over proof dish and leave to cool. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180C. Once the leeks have cooled, scatter over most of the grated cheese. Lay the tomato slices over the cheese to form a layer, and scatter over the parsley, followed by the rest of the cheese. Bake for around 30 minutes.

This is a side dish, but to be honest, who is going to judge if you curl up in front of Doctor Who with just this and a big spoon. It covers most food groups, and is delicious. When you receive your leeks in your boxes, they will store quite happily in the fridge for the week, but might be a bit bendy come next Friday! Enjoy!

Leave a comment

Chicken and Jerusalem Artichoke Pie

Now, when one thinks of delicious roasted veg, the Jerusalem artichoke is not necessarily what one would automatically come up with. These knobbly, lumpy, funny looking things are not exactly appetising in appearance, look like they would be a nightmare to peel, and all in all can leave one feeling a little uninspired when you see them dried up and dishevelled at the bottom of the cupboard.

These were my sentiments until I was introduced again to Mr Jerusalem this week. Our grower Rik, came in with a crate of freshly dug, dusky pink and pearly peach, misshaped lovelies on Thursday morning, and I must say I was very impressed. I never thought that the words “they look lovely!” would pass through my lips whilst looking at a root vegetable, but they did, and with much gusto.

These plants belong to the sunflower family, and its only the succulent tubers that are eaten. Other fun names include sunchoke and my favourite, earth apple. They are native to North America, and were brought over toEuropeby a French Explorer who described them as ‘tasting like artichokes’. This may well be the reason for the name, despite the Jerusalem artichoke being a sunflower! As far as nutrition is concerned, these roots are very rich in a carbohydrate called inulin. This substance encourages the natural bacteria in the gut, and so promotes digestive health, with the added humorous and anti social effects associated with intestinal movements! Maybe this is why not everybody likes them…

So, what to do with these delights! Soup and roasted are the most common ways to cook these roots, but look what I found: chicken and Jerusalem artichoke pie!! This is my adaptation from a recipe on the bbc food website.


  • Butter for frying
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 white onion
  • Two handfuls of button mushrooms
  • 500gJerusalemartichokes, peeled and chopped into chunks
  • 2 springs of thyme
  • 150ml white wine
  • 300ml chicken stock
  • 700g boneless chicken thighs
  • Plain flour to thicken
  • Ready made puff pastry
  • Egg wash


Melt the butter with a little oil to stoop it burning (I use a big knob of butter, but its up to you really). Gently fry the onion and the garlic until soft. Add the mushrooms and artichokes, fry for another minute and then add the wine. Cook until the wine is well reduced. Sprinkle over a little flour (about 2 tablespoons) and add the stock slowly, stirring to make a sauce. Add the chicken and thyme, season with salt and pepper, cover, and leave to cook for around 10 minutes. Give it a stir, then transfer to a large casserole pot.

Roll out the pastry quite thinly, and lay the sheet over the pie filling, trimming off the edges so that it fits. Stick a hole in the top to let the steam out. Preheat the oven to 220 degrees, eggwash the pastry and pop in the oven for about 15 minutes. When the pastry is golden brown, reduce the heat to 190 degrees and cook for a further 25 minutes until cooked through and piping hot.

Leave a comment

Sauteed Komatsuna with Basil

Ok, so I was going to do parsnips this week as it is the first time this year that we have been able to include them in the boxes. This is a huge excitement for me, I love parsnips, and organic ones just smell and taste so much better!

But, after chatting to some of our lovely customers about the stranger items present in the box, I realised that I had overlooked something.

Please welcome to the stage: Komatusna greens! These beautiful waxy green leaves have been in the boxes for a while now, but for some reason it never occurred to me to cook them. In winter months, I tend to avoid stir fries and cook more filling, fatty comfort foods, but this week I am in need of a vitamin fix. And these greens are just so attractive, with their deep colour and lovely paddle shape. They look like some sort of exotic, vegetable based fan, you know, the ones they used in the olden days to cool down emperors and such like in the heat of the day.

I digress. So, for us lay folk, komatsuna is a leafy form of a wild turnip. We grow quite a lot of it on the farm because it is just so hardy, nothing can kill this plant apart from the harshest of weathers. So, despite our freak weather systems this year, our komatsuna crop has done wonderfully!

I found this recipe on a lady’s blog called chubby bunny recipes. It’s a lovely website, go and check it out. This involves sautéing komatsuna with basil, something that would never have occurred to me and so I was really keen to try. I served the sautéed greens with a simply tomato and red onion salad, and a hunk of freshly baked bread, for a light and healthy lunch.


  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 shallot thinly sliced
  • 50g pine nuts
  • 200g komatsuna leaves
  • 2 cups whole basil leaves
  • Salt and pepper


Toast the pine nuts in a dry pan over a high heat, and put to one side. Fry the garlic and shallot in the olive oil and a little bit of butter, until softened. Slice the komatsuna leaves and add to the pan, with a splash of water to help them cook down and become tender. Stir in the basil leaves until they have just wilted. Serve straight away.

You can also use komatsuna in salads, as a braised veg, or in pickling! When you receive your greens, pop them in the fridge and use as soon as possible to retain maximum freshness.