Mar 202012

Potato, parsnip and wild garlic pesto mash, wilted dressed chickweed & harissa seafood
This meal started off as one of those: “What do I do with these?” scenarios.

Debs had made a gorgeous parsnip, cinnamon and lemon cake with some of our over-wintered parsnips. It was delicious. I had one parsnip left that Debs had not been able to use.

And I had cleared a space in our big polytunnel for a new kiwi ‘Jenny’ and for our tarragon.  (How posh is that, to have a big and a little polytunnel?) The space for these had a huge clump of chickweed in it that we’d been harvesting for ages.

And, of course, it’s wild garlic time.

So I thought that the parsnip would make a really intense sweet/savoury mash with potatoes and wild garlic pesto. It did.

I gave the chickweed a good haircut. Then I just washed it, gave it a good shake and wilted a 2 litre pan full, covered and shaken for 2-3 minutes. I dressed it with my normal vinaigrette.

I brushed the seafood with a little harissa and griddled it on a very hot ridged griddle for about 4 minutes. I then turned the heat off and covered with a saucepan lid to leave it to cook in the residual heat and steam.

The whole recipe took less than 30 minutes to prepare and had a lovely contrast of colours, flavours and textures.

So the only thing for me to add is a recipe for wild garlic pesto. Read on… Continue reading »

 Posted by at 10:04
Mar 182012


The first nettles of the 2012 season for us.

While the spaghetti cooks, gently fry garlic & anchovies in extra virgin olive oil. Then add nettles to the pan and cover till they wilt. Season with salt, ground black pepper and lemon juice. Mix through lightly drained spaghetti with a good handful of finely grated Parmesan cheese. Delicious!

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 Posted by at 13:49
Mar 112012

I promised some more salad dressings when I wrote the Vinaigrette recipe the other day. I really looked forward to doing this post because mayonnaise this way is so simple and so spectacular. You’ll have great mayo in less than a minute. I hope once you have made this the first time, you will not feel the need to buy mayo ever again.

What’s more, it gave me an excuse to make a food-related video to show you how easy it all is. So it was lucky I needed some mayonnaise yesterday. It was to make into a wild garlic mayonnaise to go with some juicy prawns grilled with breadcrumbs and parmesan. I’m afraid there’s no picture of the finished dish because we ate it!

If you want to know how make this, wild garlic mayonnaise or tartar sauce, please read on… Continue reading »

 Posted by at 16:43
Mar 092012

Panzannella - winter bread salad
If you make or use much good bread, you’ll have bits left over that are a shame to waste. Sourdough is great for this because it lasts without going mouldy much longer than yeasted bread. So you can collect a little stash. The bread needs to be a few days old and dry or drying.

Many people know about the summer panzanella made with juicy & fragrant tomatoes. For this winter salad, I made the bread into crispy parmesan croutons and added some raw and roasted vegetables to make a big, punchy & pretty salad for a main meal.

52 week salad challenge bannerI was asked on twitter if it’s filling enough for hearty appetites. Well this made enough for three hungry gluttons with some left over for a lunch the next day.

This is an ideal way to continue to have salad through the darker parts of the year. It’s another contribution from me to the 52 Week Salad Challenge.

It’s a very simple recipe, read on to find out more… Continue reading »

 Posted by at 09:06
Jan 292012

Pasty served with home-made canned baked beans

This week’s Short and Tweet Challenge was a dream recipe for me. That’s because it gave me the chance to use so much home produced or foraged ingredients.

The recipe was for Dan’s Spinach and Ricotta Pasties. A gorgeous ricotta/mushroom/spinach/garlic/chilli/oregano filling is encased in a tomato & cheese dough.

I changed the dough recipe slightly by using all wholemeal spelt flour. This was to intensify the colour and because I love the nutty/wholemeal taste of spelt. The dough was very easy to handle and Dan’s quick 10 second kneads make light work of it.

I had great fun with the filling. I was able to use my own dried chillies and oregano both preserved from the 2011 harvest. Instead of ricotta I used brocciu I made from goat’s milk that I first used in this chestnut ravioli. Instead of the spinach, I used foraged nettles that I’d frozen from last year.

Pasty ingredients: brocciu, lemon zest, mushroom mix, hazelnuts, nettles
In addition to those ingredients, I added 75g of toasted and chopped hazelnuts for taste & to give some crunch to the filling. Finally, I thought the mix could do with a little lift and so added the finely grated rind of an unwaxed lemon.

I was delighted with the combination of flavours. The pastry was thin and crisp and with a lovely cheesy edge from the parmesan. The filling had complex flavours, which blended together beautifully. The nuts and lemon really lifted the filling from good to excellent.

The pasties are incredibly filling. This may be partly because I used a wholemeal flour for the dough. I think you could easily make these pasties into smaller buffet size ones and make double the number of pasties. This will be a firm favourite in our house from now on.

All I needed to serve with it was some home-made (and home canned) baked beans. Make these, they are delicious.

Cut open nettle & brocciu pasty


 Posted by at 19:53
Jan 152012

Cider vinegar muffins, with poached eggs and chickweed salad
I was very keen to have a go at this week’s ShortandTweet Challenge as one of the recipes was for these muffins. And that meant I could use our hens’ eggs in the recipe and the cider vinegar I had made earlier in the year. A bonus was the chance to incorporate some foraged salad garnish for the 52 Week Salad Challenge as well.

The recipe for the muffins was a doddle. Mix the dough the night before and keep in the fridge. Then take the dough out in the morning, allow it to warm up and cook away.

I was short of time (and hungry) so I abbreviated the process that Dan had written in the recipe. I took the dough out of the fridge and folded it. I then scaled and shaped the dough straight away into 9 muffins which I allowed to prove in a very low oven for a couple of hours.

Cooking the muffins in a frying pan was a first for me. It was a bit fiddly to do, so the first muffins were a little misshapen. Batch 2 and 3 went much better.

Cider vinegar muffin, crumb shot

The colour of the muffins is striking. In Dan’s book the muffins are pearly white. Mine have this glorious saffron hue. I think this is due to the eggs from our free-ranging chickens. As you can see from the picture at the top, they have striking yellow yolks.

Cider vinegar muffins close up

The muffins taste just great. They have a nice crisp exterior and a soft interior which is just ideal for soaking up egg. I’m looking forward to some toasted for breakfast tomorrow with some cranberry and orange jam I made the other day.

The chickweed salad came from some chickweed that we had picked 2 days ago. It was washed and keeps very well in the fridge. It’s a great foraged vegetable with a really good taste. To see what other stuff I have in the garden available to me see this earlier post on January pickings.

All-in-all a very satisfying lunch indeed.


 Posted by at 15:10
Jan 082012

Chickweed and teapot

I picked a load of chickweed (stellaria media) after I took all the pictures for this post on the 52 Week Salad Challenge.

It’s a very versatile ingredient. When at its peak like this it can be easily eaten raw and is also great cooked. As the plant gets older it can get a bit tougher, so strip off the leaves and steam them or sauté in some butter or oil.

I used my bounty in two ways. First, it was an ingredient for some deliciously moreish and spicy pakora. Second, I used it in a simple carrot salad dressed with hot kalonji seeds in oil. I served these with some fried, spiced mackerel for a simple curry feast.

Do you fancy having a go at this? Read on… Continue reading »

 Posted by at 16:52
Jan 072012
 Posted by at 18:57
Nov 172011

Apple, almond and date cake with spices and spelt flour

This cake is so simple and stunningly satisfying. It has a crunchy top and moist inside. The flavours are pleasingly complex with spicy sweet/tart apples contrasting with rich toffee-like roasted dates. The spelt flour and almonds give the cake a substantial nutty body.

It tastes great warm straight from the oven or cool later on. We like it a lot and have been known to eat it for breakfast.

The recipe originates from my mother-in-law who is a superb purveyor of cakey delights. She gave me the recipe for a German Apple Almond cake that we’ve been enjoying for years. I thought I take that basic recipe and give it a twist. I hope she approves.

It really is a doddle to make. Would you like to know how? Read on… Continue reading »

 Posted by at 21:27
Oct 172011

Fridge Jam

This is the third part of the Sloe Trilogy where you use the same batch of sloes to make wine, vodka and fridge jam.

Sloes in a glass

This jam has the great sloe taste. I was surprised, to be honest, because I thought that the flavour transfer to the wine and vodka would mean it carried less punch. That’s not the case at all and you’ll enjoy the earthy/fruity flavour of sloes.

I’ll confess that the first time I made a sloe fridge jam it was out of laziness.  I had fresh sloes and I didn’t want the faff of stoning or putting through a jelly bag. So I thought about making the jam with stones and all, and then sieving out the stones. And it worked.

This recipe is no harder. In fact, it’s easier because I’ve changed the order of things around a little.

You’ll need some granulated sugar and some sterilised jam jars or other containers for your finished jam.

This jam has a lower sugar content than normal jams at only 50% of the weight of the fruit. It will keep OK outside the fridge until opened. Once open, keep it in the fridge. Want to have a go? Read on… Continue reading »

 Posted by at 11:00
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