We all know that Kent has some of the most impressive growers and producers in the country and we should be rightly proud of our current food scene. But we’re also pretty good when it comes to bottles. Of course, our English Sparkling is knocking spots off our friends across the water and winning global recognition, but there is so much more going into glass these days.

Here, I take three different Kent bottles and put them to great use in the kitchen. I picked up all these in my local Farmer’s Farm Shop in Teston. Your own farm shop is always a great place to start, as tit will invariably support local and will be the first to have anything new. If you can't find the bottles there, Benenden Sauce makers.harringtonfoods.co.uk, rochester-drinks.com and rentacherrytree.co.uk (for Dallaway cherries) should all have details of stockists


Great British Life: Benenden barbecue poussinBenenden barbecue poussin (Image: Julie Friend)

Benenden Barbecue Poussin

I was first given a bottle of Benenden Sauce by a friend who lived in the county before I did. He brought it up to my London flat and, as it's primarily a dressing, we had it on a crunch salad. I've been a huge fan ever since.

I then realised that the combination of oil, garlic and spices could be so useful in other ways and have been playing with it ever since. Here, it brings additional life to a barbecue sauce.

Serves 2


1 Poussin (or two larger chicken legs)

For the marinade: 2 tbsp Benenden Sauce

For the sauce

2 tbsp Benenden Sauce

2 tbsp tomato ketchup

2 tbsp brown sauce

1 tbsp runny honey


Marinade the poussin or chicken legs. If using poussin, spatchcock it by cutting right along the underside of the the bird using scissors or a sharp knife, to open it up. Then press firmly down along the breast area (or you could just ask your butcher to spatchcock the bird for you). Make a few little holes in the legs and breast of the bird with a sharp knife, then rub the Benenden sauce all over. Put in a dish in the fridge, cover and leave preferably overnight or at least for a few hours, so it absorbs all the Benenden flavour. cut right along the underside to open the bird up) and press down firmly on the breast area. and this is best left overnight or at least for a few hours.

Combine all the sauce ingredients, so it's ready when you are.

When you're ready to cook, preheat oven to 180C

Remove bird from fridge and place onto a baking tray or in an ovenproof dish. Roast at 180C for 30mins.

Remove from oven and with pastry a brush or the back of a small spoon, spread about 1/2 of the barbecue sauce over the bird.

Turn oven down to 170C, return bird to oven and roast for another 10 mins, or until hot right through the thickest parts.

Serve remaining sauce on the sidenwith a crisp, green salad.


Great British Life: Pears Poached in Rochester Jamaican GingerPears Poached in Rochester Jamaican Ginger (Image: Julie Friend)

Pears Poached in Rochester Jamaican Ginger

I am a huge ginger fan - it brings an earthy warmth to dishes without blowing your head off in the way that chilli sometimes can. The original Rochester Ginger is great with lemon and ice for a zingy drink, but I love using this darker, spiced version in the kitchen (although it would be delicious with a dash of rum...). Beware: its flavour does seems to get a little punchier when you reduce that last bit, but for me this is the perfect, simple dessert, especially when served with some local ice cream.

Serves 4


• 1 x 725ml bottle Rochester Dark Ginger - non-alchoholic, old Jamaican recipe

• 4 of your favourite Kent pears (I chose Comice)

• 1 tsp salted butter


Peel the pears with a sharp knife or peeler, keeping the stalks on.

Using a corer or knife, come up from the bottom of the fruit and cut out the core and pips. Be careful not to lose too much of the pear itself.

Cut a thin slice off the bottom of each pear so that it can stand and put them into a saucepan (where they should fit quite snugly), stalks upwards.

Cover with the Rochester Ginger – you’ll probably need most of the bottle and don’t worry if the fruits aren’t completely covered.

Take a piece of baking parchment or foil and cut it into the saucepan-sized circle, to make a very loose ‘lid’, which will tuck inside the pan as a sort of insulator (this is called a cartouche).

Bring the pan to the boil, then turn down to a low simmer so that the pears start poaching. This can take around 40-45 minutes, depending upon how ripe the fruit is. If the fruit weren’t completely covered by the Rochester Ginger, turn them occasionally.

Test the pears every ten minutes - you don't want them mushy. Once a cocktail stick goes through them with no resistance, you'll know they're tender. At this point, remove them from the dark poaching liquid.

Put the pan back onto the heat and turn it up so the liquid gently boils again.

Keep going until it has a syrupy consistency (it will look a bit like thin treacle) and remove from the heat.

Drizzle the sticky sauce over the pears and serve, either warm or cold, with local ice cream - I chose Solley’s Coconut to continue the island theme.

Note: the sauce might thicken up a little as it gets cold, but a little warming will make it pourable again - even 30 seconds in a microwave should do the trick.


Great British Life: Cherry NegroniCherry Negroni (Image: Julie Friend)

Cherry granita and Cherry Negroni

I can hardly call these recipes as they are more suggestions or ideas but, perhaps oddly, when I first saw this Dallaway cherry juice for sale, my first instinct wasn't to drink it but to make things with it. That’s a chef’s mind for you I guess, but I am quite happy mine works like that sometimes.

A granita is really a fancy slush puppy with a few more ice crystals in it - a "Beginner’s Sorbet", if you like. I love it either as a mini pre-dessert to refresh your palate after a main course or just as an extra texture alongside something like a creamy cheesecake.

One of the small juices will make enough for about 4 people or buy the larger one and then you can have a couple of the delicious Negronis, too.

Cherry Negroni

This is a strong drink so lighten it up and lengthen with soda water, or just add extra cherry juice.


30ml Local Kent gin (I love the ‘Mereworth Oak Aged’ in this)

30ml Vermouth

30ml Campari

60 ml Dalloway cherry juice


Mix everything together and serve over ice with fresh cherries if you can get them or thinly sliced orange. Cheers!

Great British Life: Cherry GranitaCherry Granita (Image: Julie Friend)



• 250 ml Dallaway Cherry Juice

• 2 heaped tbsp icing sugar

• 1 tsp lemon juice.


Pour the cherry juice into a shallow plastic container that can go in the freezer (I use the lidded kind that would come with a take-away)

Dissolve the icing sugar into it and add the lemon juice.

Place into the freezer and leave for around 2 hours so it starts to solidify.

Once the liquid has half frozen take it out and scuff it up with a fork.

Return to the freezer for another hour or so and then keep repeat the scuffing technique.

Once ready to serve do the same again, a quick dragging over with the prongs of a fork get you the texture we’re looking for.