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Herbs Unlimited celebrates 25 years of success

PUBLISHED: 16:32 06 October 2017 | UPDATED: 17:06 06 October 2017

Alison Dodd who founded Herbs Unlimited

Alison Dodd who founded Herbs Unlimited

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A specialist Ryedale grower marks its milestone anniversary with a trio of celebratory dishes

It’s the little things in life that can often give us the most joy. At least, that’s the experience of chef Alison Dodd, who’s brainchild Herbs Unlimited is celebrating 25 years of successfully producing herbs, salads and edible flowers.

To celebrate, she’s sharing three recipes with us, using a range of small but powerfully delicious speciality edibles from her 92-acre farm at Sand Hutton in Ryedale, where she launched her business in 1992 and now employs 45 permanent staff.

‘I started the company 25 years ago because the fresh herbs I wanted for my dishes were hard to come by at that time,’ said Alison. ‘One of our earliest customers was Hull-based Cranswick, now a leading UK food producer. We have grown with them and they remain a customer to this day.

‘A business like ours can never stand still and we’re constantly innovating and investing in both equipment and staff to maximise market opportunities. While Brexit has brought uncertainty to the market, it has also brought a renewed interest in sourcing from the UK and supporting British and Yorkshire farming and we are well placed to make the most of that.’

Alison and her team recently hosted an open day in Sand Hutton to celebrate the versatility of herbs and edible flowers and inspire chefs with new ways to give their dishes the wow factor. Following a tour of the farm and its extensive greenhouses, award-winning chef Stephanie Moon produced themed canapes which highlighted the many ways to use the fresh herbs and flowers grown on the farm.

The menu included lemon verbena mocktails, Yorkshire wagyu tartar with oxalis, Whitby crab and tomato jelly with bronze fennel anise, hyssop pork belly with ginger, chilli, soy and coriander and pineapple mint brownies with pineapple shards, lemon verbena and tagetes.

Orange thyme roast scallops

You will need:

3 scallops per person for a starter

A splash of white wine

1 bunch of orange thyme

1 block of butter

2 large oranges, zest and juice

1 red chilli, seeds removed and finely chopped

orange thyme for garnish

jasmine rice, cooked

To make:

Heat up the barbecue (or grill) while you soften the butter and add the finely chopped red chilli to taste.

Add the orange zest and finely chopped orange thyme leaves. Mix well, shape into a log and refrigerate for to firm up.

Put a slice of the herbed butter into each scallop shell and replace the raw, trimmed scallop on top before putting it on the barbecue (or under the grill). Turn the scallop when its got a nice colour and repeat on the other side with a small mound of Jasmine rice in each shell to warm through.

Add a little white wine and orange juice to each shell and let it bubble away a little before serving the scallops in their shell (with a teaspoon and napkin).

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Whitby crab with tomato jelly

You will need:

1 dressed Whitby crab

1 jar of Keta caviar (not essential)

1 cucumber, shaved into long slices

1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar

1 tablespoon of sugar

1 lime, zest and juice

1 small carton soured cream

bronze fennel sprigs for garnish

(for the tomato jelly)

15 sprigs bronze fennel

600g ripe plum tomatoes

1 stick of celery

2 peeled and chopped shallots

3 cloves garlic

Half fennel bulb chopped

Splash of Henderson’s Relish

Half teaspoon of cayenne

1 splash of Tabasco

2 tablespoons of golden caster sugar

4 sprigs of fresh basil

6 leaves of gelatine

To make:

Marinade the cucumber slices in the white wine vinegar, sugar and a tablespoon of boiling water.

Blitz all the tomato jelly ingredients (except the gelatine) in a mixer, strain through a muslin cloth overnight until you have a clear juice.

Soak the gelatine in cold water. Warm 4 tablespoons of the strained tomato juice in a pan, add the gelatine and dissolve before adding the remaining juice.

Place the picked crab meat into the bottom of your serving glasses. Pour over a little of the jelly and set in the fridge.

Once solid, build the layers with a little more jelly mix and some bronze fennel tops and allow to set again in the fridge.

Put a swirl of cucumber sliced on top of each jelly, pipe on some soured cream and garnish dots of caviar, bronze fennel and edible flowers.

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Yorkshire wagyu with oxalis

You will need:

200g each of very finely shredded wagyu rump cap and fillet

200g pickled white mouli radish, peeled and finely diced

A punnet of oxalis

Handful of parsley

Banana shallot, chopped

(for the pickle)

175g caster sugar

175ml white wine vinegar

200ml water

Sprinkle of salt

1 teaspoon white peppercorns

1 star anise

To make:

Boil the water, star anise, sugar, salt and peppercorns (in a bouquet garni-style pouch to stop the peppercorns from going everywhere). Add the mouli and cool off the heat.

Drain the mouli and mix with the shredded wagyu, sea salt to taste, parsley and shallot. Serve with a quality ketchup or mayonnaise and top with an oxalis leaf.

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