IT’S CHRISTMAS!

It’s that cosy time of year again.  No excuse needed to indulge, relax and get those fluffy slipper socks on…

 

Of course, it goes without saying that our favourite thing about Christmas is all the delicious festive food. Sometimes we feel it’s just too short-lived. So, we’re starting Christmas flavours this year from 8th November.  And, as usual, we have something for everyone.

 

What better way to kick off Christmas than with our SOHO Christmas Dinner Sandwich; slices of turkey, streaky bacon & homemade nut roast with a crispy onion mayo, cranberry sauce & baby leaf spinach on malthouse bread. All the flavours of Christmas in one bite.

 

Veggie’s can look forward to our Brie & Cranberry Melt; the perfect marriage of Brie and cranberry sauce with crispy onion mayo & baby leaf spinach on caramelised onion & rosemary focaccia…just take me to be toasted, tuck in and enjoy.

 

We’ve got Christmas wrapped up with our Vegan Festive nut roast Wrap; Homemade nut roast & roasted butternut squash with a mustard & onion gravy, sugar snap peas, baby leaf spinach in a multigrain tortilla.

 

Chocolate & Cherry is a match made in heaven and tastes even better when you know that 10p on every Choc & Cherry muffin goes to our Charity MDUK, helping support those struggling with this muscle-wasting disease. The same delicious Choc Cherry combo makes the best Black Forest Vegan Shake ever; made with almond milk, blended with ice and topped with our new vegan whipped cream, cherry sauce and chocolate shavings.

 

Festivity can also be found in our bakery where you’ll find a lovely collection of Christmas cakes and biscuits. From our Christmas Bakewell Slice with fruity mincemeat to our special Christmas Pudding Shortbread and the star, Choc Orange Marshmallow Tea Cake (dark chocolate, marshmallow & orange curd).  The perfect accompaniment to our triple-certified coffee.  Or double up on marshmallow and chocolate with our amazing Rocky Road Hot Chocolate, one of our Three King Seasonal drinks!  And, our Gingerbread Latte can also be made vegan, what more is there to say?

 

Fluffy slipper socks allowed…😉

 

Rocky Road hot chocolate, gingerbread latte, black forest vegan shake


Plant Power

I’ve just been inspired by the movie “The Game Changers” – where big top name athletes swap out meat for plant protein. My favourite quote is – “how could you get as strong as an ox without eating meat?” Answer: “Have you ever seen an ox eating meat?”

 

I’ve always been a fan of plant-based food since going to Japan, where back in the day I trained and learned to make sushi. I was also wowed by the amazing breadth of tofu on offer and the different ways it can be prepared; it’s a completely different beast to here in the UK. I’m realising now, several years later, that I must make a change and introduce more plant power into my life. When I can’t get into my motorbike trousers I know it’s time to get serious. Having a job that involves being in the kitchen and constantly tasting, well you can imagine how easily your waist can fall out of line, and I have no switch off when it comes to food. So, I’ve decided to be more flexitarian and include more plant-based meals in my diet.

 

Eating more plant-based meals is not a new thing and definitely on the rise. Vegetarianism as we know it is has been around for hundreds of years and the Vegan Society today celebrates 75 years of the official term, vegan: https://bit.ly/2NvfbQr

 

One way to pile in the veg is juicing. And, because you’re getting your roots and fruits raw, you get max nutrients straight to where you need it. There is something really exhilarating as freshly juiced kale, cucumber, apple, pear, ginger and lemon slip down. Our Marketing Manager, Sophie, hasn’t stopped ranting about how good she feels having spent a week on fruit & veg alone, all in the form of juices.

 

Game Changer

 

So, I’m up for the challenge.

 

But, I’m also a meat lover. So, I’m going to be my own guinea pig. I’m not sure how I feel about working hard to create a vegan meal that pretends to be meat…I’ve been around people who have been vegan for years and doing magical stuff without having to create something that’s trying to be something else…do we do this for meat lovers to reduce their FOMO (fear of missing out)? Or, for vegans who haven’t eaten meat for years? Gary Rhodes has been a great exponent of good, wholesome vegan flavours and textures, for their own sake and I think I tend to lean towards this camp.

 

I believe eating this way really is a game changer. Good for us all and good for the planet.

 

The Japanese certainly top the global table for life expectancy so looks like I have nothing to lose in trying 😊 Watch this space!

 

Martin


My Special Sourdough

Meet the Magical Horace…

#sourdoughSeptember

 

There’s sourdough and then there’s sourdough.

 

A natural artisanal sourdough is a live culture that’s fed daily.

 

Meet Horace.  My eight year old.

 

This precious sourdough starter began life in a little Kilner jar as fresh homemade yoghurt, sultanas, water, rye flour and flour.  And after 5 days of caressing and feeding he came to life and was born.  Horace lives in a yoghurt pot in a corner of the kitchen and is fed every day with equal parts flour to water to keep him alive and healthy.

 

I ponder on a Friday night about all the different sourdoughs I can make. Am I going to make traditional Pain de Campagne (classic country farmhouse)?  What flour shall I choose? – spelt, rye, organic white? At this point I feed Horace. Without Horace, I am nothing.  He needs to be fed before I can make my sourdough and that’s 12 hours in advance to make sure he’s got enough yeast cells in him to give my bread the necessary lift.

 

More often than not, I go for the classic Willie’s sourdough (that’s my nickname).  As Horace comes to a lovely rise, about 7am in the morning, I take 200g of him and add him to the dry mix and water.  My chosen dry mix is Canadian wholemeal flour, the same of white and a touch of rye. To boost Horace and introduce a bit of speed for the enzymes, I sometimes add a bit of malt flour – it makes him go crazy!

 

Hands on time!

I’ve used Dan Lepards’ sourdough method for years, and some bakers that I’ve shared this with choose this method for their home baking. You can’t rush a good thing.  It involves patience and nurturing; mixing and resting – slowly increasing Horace’s rest periods in between from 10 minutes to 2 hours until he’s nicely aerated and full of lots of lovely bubbles to his structure.

 

It’s then time to divide, shape and rest in the banneton (proofing basket) where I leave Horace to rise naturally, which could take anywhere between 4 – 6 hours.  Funny that I should have named him Horace, meaning “Time Keeper”, when he’s anything but this!  But don’t panic if you need to go out.  You can pop the sourdough into the fridge and pick it up again in the morning. Although I rarely choose to do this, it does give the sour notes time to develop.

 

What I do a lot of, is make crackers for my kids when I replenish Horace.  When I take away a little bit of Horace to feed him fresh flour and water in equal parts every day, I take this live but not so active piece of Horace and add wholemeal flour, cold pressed rapeseed oil, salt & pepper, smoked paprika, onion granules, a pinch of garlic powder and sesame seeds.  Rolled out, cut out with a ravioli cutter and dried in the oven at 120 degrees C for 15-20 mins, creates great kiddies’ cracker snacks.

 

Horace gets better with age.  Although he’s only 8 years old, in theory he could live forever.  He already has sons and daughters.  The little bit of Horace I recently gave away is now called Laurace…and so his legacy lives on.  I find it comforting to think that generations might enjoy the same toasted sourdough, topped with smashed avo, beautifully crisp bacon and poached egg and sriracha of a Sunday morning – Willie’s Sunday fave.

 

Martin


A bowl of salad with feta

Salad Days

Welcome to the first of our regular thought-sharing slots.
We thought we might take it in turns to bring you snippets from behind the scenes at SOHO. This month, to celebrate the launch of our new website, this space has been given over to…

The Marti & Mandy Show…

Who together, make up the foodie team here at SOHO. These guys walk, talk, eat and sleep food – it’s a tough job but someone’s gotta do it.

 

Before we start the taste-making process for the day, we have to start with our morning brew, a builder’s tea for Amanda and our classic Flat White for me. We like to call it Procaffeinating: the tendency to not start anything until you’ve had a cuppa.

 

Has anyone else noticed how ballistic the garden has gone this summer? The warm, wet weather has brought on a bumper crop and we’ve been playing in the development kitchen experimenting with different seasonal salad ingredients. Salads are one of my favourite things. The possibilities are endless, with textures and colours reflecting this brilliant time of year. It’s like creating a painting that just invites you to eat with your eyes: vegetables, roots, fruits, and seeds offer us a great palette of bitter, sweet, salty, sour & pungent (umami) flavours that is well documented to create health and well-being. There’s been a lot of talk recently in the news about Britain’s food self-sufficiency too, and we’re lucky to be able to grow an amazingly wide variety here in the UK.

 

There’s lots of ways to prepare Mother Nature’s seasonal crop; raw, steamed, roasted…no two salads are ever the same. We also forget that acid is a perfect tenderiser – nothing better than tender-stem broccoli, left to steep for a few hours in first cold-pressed olive oil, lemon juice or vinegar, sea salt and crushed pepper corns. Slow-roasted beetroot with walnuts and spring onion or oven-roasted squashes with rosemary and thyme added warm to a bed of rocket, I could go on all day.

 

I tend to think about the next layer as something proteiny - from crumbled goat’s cheese, feta, to torn chicken, prawns, soft-boiled free-range egg or how about some pan-fried pancetta or heated pumpkin and sesame seeds?

All of this, and we haven’t even considered dressings yet!

 

Some people find choice overload too much and I’d say that maybe my Dad had it right back in the day, when the only salad he ever made we all loved: quite simply squares of cheddar, pineapple chunks and raw white cabbage with a cider vinegar dressing. Anyone for a bit of nostalgia?

 

If you have a fave salad that’s been in the family for years, we’d love to hear about it.

Email talktous@sohocoffee.co.uk or get in touch via social media using #FaveSalad.

 

Martin & Amanda


Muffin with union jack flag decoration by SOHO Coffee Co.

The ‘Royal County’ brings you the Queen of Cakes

In honour of the Royal Wedding this Saturday we at SOHO will be celebrating this momentous day by launching a limited edition Royal Muffin. This is a take on the Royal Wedding cake, a delicious lemon and elderflower muffin, decorated with edible flowers, golden chocolate balls and rice paper union jack butterflies – the most beautiful thing to behold!

 

Based in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, the same county as many of the Royals have chosen to make their homes, it seems only fitting that we should create a cake fit for a Princess.

 

Available in selected stores for the special day only!

 

Congratulations Meghan & Harry from all of us at SOHO