Asparagus focaccia

The Yorkshire asparagus season is now if full swing, and our nearest grower, at Sand Hutton, has recruited local workers to keep up with demand. Keeping a lockdown safe distance for the team has been a challenge for farmers Rich and Ronda Morritt but their asparagus is as good today as it’s always been.

There’s another month to go before the season traditionally ends on Midsummer’s Day so make the most of it while you can – English asparagus is far superior to the spindly stuff that’s flown in from abroad, and it’s an incredibly versatile ingredient, working equally well in a soup as in a salad or dipped in a poached egg for breakfast…

We’ve been making this Sand Hutton asparagus focaccia bread for years now, but for this recipe we’ve made it Yorkshire through and through. The flour has come from the wonderful Side Oven Bakery on the Yorkshire Wolds, and the essential dough ingredient, Yorkshire Rapeseed Oil has come from the Wolds too. 

The ham is from award-winning butcher David Lishman at Ilkley, and the tomatoes have been grown under LED lights at the horticultural research centre at Stockbridge near Cawood, made available through Bert’s Barrow drive-thru farm shop. The red onions are from Bert’s too, with only the polenta for dusting, salt and yeast coming from our store cupboard.

The focaccia is fabulous for tearing and sharing, and even though the lockdown prevents us getting together, it’s just as good re-heated the next day. I’ve also tried it with a poached egg on top for a scratch breakfast – now THAT was amazing….

Sand Hutton asparagus and Lishman’s air dried ham focaccia

Serves 6-8

  • 125g air dried ham – we used smoked – rolled and sliced into ribbons
  • 8 asparagus spears cut into 5cm pieces
  • 1 red onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • Handful of cherry tomatoes, quartered. You can use sun-dried ones if you prefer
  • 500g strong white bread flour
  • 1 tsp easy blend yeast
  • 10g fine sea salt
  • 3 tbsp Yorkshire Rapeseed Oil
  • 350ml warm water
  • Cornmeal or polenta to dust (optional)

Combine the yeast, flour and salt in a bowl. Add the oil and water and mix to a rough dough – it will be soft and wet. If you have a mixer with a dough hook it will make short work of the kneading; otherwise, turn out on to a lightly floured surface and knead by hand, adding a little more flour if need be, but keep it to a minimum. Knead for 10 minutes until smooth.

Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl dusted with flour, cover and leave in a warm place to rise until doubled in size – at least an hour, maybe closer to two.

Meanwhile toss the ham, asparagus and red onion in a tablespoon of the oil and seasoning, then set aside. Grease a shallow-edged 22cm x 30cm baking tray (or a couple of smaller ones) and scatter the cornmeal or polenta over the surface – this gives the focaccia a nice, crisp base. Tip the dough straight onto the tray and, without kneading out the air, press out ;lightly with your fingertips until it rough;y fills the tray.

Arrange the asparagus mixture on the top along with the tomatoes, gently pushing the ingredients into the dough. Cover and leave for 30 minutes or up to an hour, until it has risen further and is light and puffy.

Meanwhile heat the oven to 220C/Gas 7. Bake the focaccia for 10 minutes, then lower to 190C/Gas 5 and bake for 15 minutes more, until golden. Trickle with a little of the oil, then turn out on to a rack. Eat while still warm.

Sue Nelson


01904 448439 / 07850327927
Toft Acres, 89 Back Lane South
Wheldrake, York, YO19 6DT

Bert’s best ever potato salad

This potato salad is just that little bit different because almost every element of it can be sourced from the fabulous Bert’s Barrow drive-thru farm shop near Selby.

It makes a beautiful spring/summer dish to go with anything you might care to fling on the barbie – and Bert’s have plenty of local meat on offer for that too – as well as the red salad we featured a couple of weeks or so ago.

Given Bert’s Barrow’s passionate focus on all things Yorkshire, we’ve decided to name this recipe in their honour. All the core ingredients are featured in their produce boxes this week – apart from the Dijon mustard!

Bert’s best ever potato salad

Serves 6-8

750g new potatoes, skins on, cut into small cubes

350g bacon diced – we used Anna’s Happy Trotters

4 tbsp Yorkshire Rapeseed Oil mayo – we used their garlic one for a bit of a kick

1 tbsp Dijon mustard

2 tsp sugar

1 tsp salt

4 hard boiled eggs, peeled and grated 

1 celery stalk, finely diced

3-4 baby red peppers (or 1 large one) diced

Bunch spring onions, finely sliced

Handful of chives, snipped

Boil the potatoes until tender. Drain and set side. Cook the diced bacon in a sauté pan until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon drain on kitchen paper. 

Pour the remaining bacon fat from the pan into a small bowl and whisk in the mayo, mustard, sugar and salt to combine.

In a large bowl mix together the potatoes, bacon, eggs, celery, spring onions, chives and red pepper. Pour over the mayo dressing and stir to coat evenly.

Cover and chill for a couple of hours before serving. Any left over can be stored in the fridge for up to 4 days.

Sue Nelson


01904 448439 / 07850 327927
Toft Acres, 89 back Lane South,
Wheldrake, York, YO19 6DT

Staal smoked salmon with leeks, potato and cheese sauce

We’re always looking for new ways to enjoy Justin Staal’s fabulous smoked salmon. We love it just as it is with a salad too celebrate spring, poshed up a bit into a mousse or terrine, and it makes a perfect companion to Sand Hutton asparagus, not to mention poached or scrambled egg for a leisurely breakfast.

But thanks to super chef Nathan Outlaw we’ve discovered another way, which is creamy unctuousness in a dish baked with leeks and a cheese sauce. We’ve adapted Nathan’s recipe a bit by chucking in some new potatoes from Bert’s Barrow drive through farm shop, which needed using up before getting our next veg box from them. So here it is –

Staal smoked salmon with leeks, potato and cheese sauce

Serves 4

4 leeks cleaned and cut into 5cm chunks

250g new potatoes

250g pack of Staal smoked salmon (or more if you want to be really decadent!)

175g Yorkshire cheese, grated

50g butter

50g plain flour

450ml whole milk

2 egg yolks

1 tsp English mustard

Handful dill, chopped

Yorkshire Rapeseed Oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 200C/Gas 6. Boil the leek chunks in a pan of salted water for 5 minutes. Drain and stand up the pieces in a buttered ovenproof dish. 

Cut the potatoes into small chunks and boil in salted water until just cooked then drain. Heat a good glug of Yorkshire Rapeseed Oil in a sauté pan, toss in the potato chunks and cook until golden. Add to the ovenproof dish with the leeks and lay the salmon over the top.

Melt the butter in a small saucepan and add the flour. Mix in and cook for a couple of minutes until golden. Remove from the heat and gradually whisk in the milk to form a smooth sauce. Return to the heat and simmer for a couple of minutes.

Remove from the heat again and beat in the egg yolks and mustard, then add the chopped dill and seasoning to taste. Pour the sauce over the vegetables and salmon and top with the grated cheese. Cook for 10 minutes or so until golden brown and serve at once. Enjoy!

Sue Nelson

01904 448439 / 07850 327927
Toft Acres, 89 Back Lane South
Wheldrake, York, YO19 6DT

Smoked salmon and asparagus risotto

This really is a match made in heaven and is one of the best ways we know to enjoy a spring risotto with fabulous Yorkshire ingredients.

We’ve been big fans of Staal Smokehouse near Beverley since we began our Yorkshire food-finding venture 8 years ago. Husband and wife team Justin and Georgina Staal have created award-winning products that will do justice to the best tables in the land. What we love about them is their use of local fish and meat where possible, plus their collaboration with other artisan producers such as Yorkshire Rapeseed Oil for whom they smoke oil to create another award-winning product.

We’re also in love with Sand Hutton asparagus which is grown by another husband and wife team, Richard and Ronda Morritt on the family farm near Stamford Bridge. And lockdown or not, when it gets to April we know their asparagus will be gracing our kitchen for the next couple of months until the traditional end of the season on midsummer’s day, June 21st. The flavour of seasonal English asparagus unbeatable compared to the stuff that’s flown in year-round from South America, and nowhere does it taste better than here in Yorkshire!

So here goes – a taste of Yorkshire spring to make you smile in the lockdown:

Staal Smokehouse salmon and Sand Hutton asparagus risotto

Serves 4

1 tbsp Yorkshire Rapeseed Oil

2 shallots, finely chopped (or an onion will do)

300g arborio (risotto) rice

Good glug of white wine

1 litre hot chicken or fish stock

1 bunch Sand Hutton asparagus, woody ends snapped off, then stems chopped

2 tbsp creme fraiche – we used Longley Farm from Holmfirth

1 pack Staal hot smoked salmon, flaked

Zest and juice of 1 lemon

Handful of chives and/or fennel fronds or dill, chopped

Salt to taste

Heat the Yorkshire Rapeseed Oil in a sauté pan over a medium heat and fry the shallot until soft.

Add the rice and stir in with the shallot until coated. Throw in the white wine and let it evaporate.

A little at a time add ladles of the hot stock, allowing the rice to absorb the liquid before adding more. When the rice is just about cooked, add the chopped asparagus, lemon zest, juice and creme fraiche. Mix well and allow to cook for a couple of minutes more until the asparagus is just cooked through but not mushy.

Stir in the flaked hot smoked salmon and the herbs – Yorkshire spring time in a dish!

Sue Nelson

01904 448439 / 07850 327927
Toft Acres, 89 Back Lane South
Wheldrake, York, YO19 6DT


Beef koftas & Tzatziki

The beef koftas were a hit here at Yorkshire Food Finder made all the better with the beef from Ryan Atkinsom’s R & J Farmers and Butchers of Kirkby Malzeard near Ripon and sourced from Bert’s Barrow drive-thru farm shop just off the A63 at Monk Fryston. That’s also where I found the ingredients for the tzatziki with Yorkshire’s Longley Farm yogurt and a locally sourced cucumber too. The flatbreads were made all the better with, of course, Longley Farm yogurt, combining with flour and baking powder from the store cupboard. Enjoy!

01904 448439 / 07850 327927
Toft Acres, 89 Back Lane South,
Wheldrake, York, YO19 6DT

Bert’s burgers

There’s no stopping the folk at Bert’s Barrow drive-through farmshop. In the continuing spirit of helping Yorkshire producers, they’ve now teamed up with R & J, who bill themselves as Yorkshire’s finest farmers and butchers, to supply beef and lamb to their hungrily loyal band of customers.

We’re all fed up that Easter in 2020 is not as we know it, but the weather is supposed to be good enough for getting out the barbecue at home. And for Easter Saturday only, Bert’s Barrow are offering three 500g packs of R&J’s lean beef mince for just a tenner. That’s plenty to keep the family fed in home made burgers!

We’ve knocked up a burger feast using produce from the farmshop to see you through the weekend. Here’s a couple of quick recipes to set you off, with more coming over the course of the weekend….

Sue Nelson

01904 448439 / 07850 327927
Toft Acres, 89 Back Lane South
Wheldrake, York, YO19 6DT

Red Salad

A gorgeous red cabbage from this week’s Bert’s Barrow box got the old creative juices going. We normally associate red cabbage with Christmas and winter comfort food, but it more than holds its own as a salad or coleslaw, especially that we’re now heading towards the summer.

This cabbage came from grower Jonathan Westwood from Wakefield – check out the recipe video to get chopping….

Sue Nelson

01904 448439 or 07850 327927
Toft Acres
Back Lane South
York YO19 6DT

Sue’s in the kitchen….

While I have put Yorkshire Food Finder into hibernation for the foreseeable future, I plan that we will be back in style when it’s possible for guests to enjoy our guided gourmet food trails, pop-up dinners and all the other events with which I would usually be involved are up and running again.

….Just as much as usual because all of Yorkshire’s fabulous food and drink producers are doing their best to make sure we can all enjoy the season’s bounty despite the lock down that’s in force at the moment. Maybe now that many of you have more time to get back to the basics. you will find my tips and suggestions helpful. If you like to work with the recipe in hand, I’ll be including some I’am building around what I’m able to get locally. Indeed, though supermarkets have their place, I’m – more than usual – trying to reduce my dependence on them as they really struggle to bring their supply chain into balance following unnecessary binge buying.

There might not be a 162nd Great Yorkshire Show this year but it will bounce-back as it did after the county was scarred by foot and mouth disease in 2001. Likewise, I’m already looking ahead to the time when I can once again plan my diary around farmers markets, food festivals and visiting food and drink producers across the broad acres that are God’s own county.

Roasted ragu sauce

This roasted ragu is a favourite of family and friends, It’s made all the better using meat from mature animals locally sourced via Malton’s Food 2 Remember, a traditional butcher specialising in traditional breeds. In this case I’ve used Hereford beef and Gloucester Old Spot pork. The Food 2 Remember approach provides access to the best meats at affordable prices, particularly when you learn that you need less to get your hit from the meat when you use the best. If you can’t get to the Food 2 Remember shop, they take orders by telephone and offer an overnight delivery service.

You’ll need:

  • Yorkshire Rapeseed Oil
  • 2 medium onions, peeled and finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
  • ¼ tsp crushed dried chillies or ½ tsp lazy red chilli (from a jar)
  • 500g beef mince
  • 500g pork mince
  • 6 rashers smoked bacon, finely chopped
  • 110g tomato puree (just over half a tube)
  • 370 ml red wine
  • 250g mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes


  1. Warm the Yorkshire Rapeseed Oil in a large sauté pan, add chopped onions, garlic and chilli. Add a little salt (a pinch or 2 – no more) and cook until soft. Remove the heat and transfer to a flameproof casserole dish
  2. Fry the beef and pork mince over a high heat, stirring to break up the meat, until golden but not dry. Transfer to the casserole.
  3. Fry the chopped bacon in the frying pan for 2 minutes then add the tomato puree. Fry for about 2 minutes more until gently roasted – it should smell like oven-dried tomatoes. Keep a close watch at this stage so nothing burns.
  4. Add the red wine and cook to reduce by a third, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to get all the juices and bits. Add the bacon and tomato mix to the casserole.
  5. Then using the same pan as you’ve used for the bacon etc, fry the mushrooms – there’s no need to clean out the pan as they will take up the residue of the bacon/tomato/wine mix. The mushrooms may produce a lot of natural liquid and they’re done when that liquid evaporates. Add to the casserole with the beef, pork and onions, bacon etc
  6. Put the flameproof casserole onto the hob and bring the ragu sauce to the boil. Cook in a very low oven (140C, or gas mark 1) with the lid off, for 4 hours, stirring occasionally. The ragu sauce will effectively slow roast in the oven, giving real depth of flavour.

Serves 8. Serve with pasta, jacket potato, or crusty bread . Can also be used as a base for lasagne. Can be reheated daily to provide meals for a week!

Sue Nelson

01904 448439 / 07580 327927
Toft Acres, 89 Back Lane South,
Wheldrake, York, YO19 6DT

Sand Hutton Asparagus pilaf

It’s spring time and we’re in love…. Sand Hutton asparagus grown by Rich and Ronnie Morritt near York is something we look forward to for ten months of the year and it never fails to disappoint. 

But because of the lockdown we’ve had to ration ourselves to getting hold of it just once a week when one of us ventures out for food supplies – pretty much all of which, by the way, comes from producers local to us.

We’re always on the lookout for new ways to serve this green goddess of goodness, and this recipe is a great supper or side dish. Enjoy…

Sand Hutton asparagus saffron pilaf

Serves 4

1 onion, halved and finely sliced

Good glug of Yorkshire Rapeseed Oil

300g basmati rice

Large pinch of saffron added to 500ml boiling water

1 bunch Sand Hutton asparagus

Good handful of dill, chopped

Handful of tarragon, leaves stripped and chopped

60g whole skinless almonds

A little butter

Cook the onion in Yorkshire Rapeseed Oil until soft. Add the rice and stir in, making sure every grain is coated.

Add the saffron water, bring to the boil, turn to very low, cover with a lid and cook until all the water has been absorbed.

Meanwhile, snap the woody bits off the end of the asparagus and remove the ‘ears’ from the stems to neaten them up. Chop into 2cm pieces.

Add to boiling water, cook for just a couple of minutes then drain. Put some ice cubes into a colander, add the asparagus and run under cold water to stop it cooking. Set aside.

Heat the butter in a frying pan and toss in the almonds. Cook until golden and drain on kitchen paper.

Add the asparagus and herbs to the cooked rice, mix well and serve.

Sue Nelson

01904 448439 / 07850 327927
Toft Acres, 89 Back lane South
Wheldrake, York, YO19 6DT

Mergeuz pasta with mint pesto

Yorkshire butcher Paul Potts is a true independent. All of the meat for his business, Food 2 Remember in the lovely Talbot Yard in Malton, is locally sourced, most of it coming from within 10 miles of his shop. And where it doesn’t, he knows exactly where it’s come from and how the animals have been reared.

It might be the beginning of the Easter weekend but he’s not selling the habitual leg of lamb – rather, he’s selling hogget which is from beasts between one and two years old, simply because it has so much more flavour.

One of his fabulous year-round products from local hogget is the amazing mergeuz sausage he makes which packs a powerful punch of Middle Eastern spices. Here at Yorkshire Food Finder we love it, and this recipe makes the most of its kick-butt flavours. We’ll be featuring more recipes featuring Paul’s products in the coming days and weeks. Enjoy!

Sue Nelson

01904 448439 / 07850 327927
Toft Acres, 89 Back Lane South
Wheldrake, York, YO19 6DT

Hash reds

You’ve heard of hash browns… well, now there’s hash reds! If you end up with leftovers from that lovely red salad you knocked up, don’t waste it. You can turn it into a lovely bowl of spuds, bubble and squeak style, that makes a great side dish. The potatoes are also in this week’s Bert’s Barrow veg box and are harvested less than a mile from their farm.

Top it with cheese as I’ve done here and flash it under the grill, or serve it with a fried egg on top to soak up all that lockdown tonsil tonic you’ve been slurping….

Sue Nelson


01904 448439 / 07850 327927
Toft Acres, 89 Back Lane South
Wheldrake, York YO19 6DT