A Glut of Weeds

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Regulars will know my penchant for weeds; both the accidental cultivation and more intentional cooking of. And a mild, wet April creates the perfect climate for wild garlic, nettles, cleavers and the like to glut - Christmastime for the foragers.

Last year at around this time, the G&G household was fed almost entirely on weeds. That is, it was until a rebellion was threatened and I was forced to branch out. You can see some of those wild garlic and nettle recipes here and here. This year, I venture to field two exceptionally tasty weed dishes at the G&G table in the hope of making the most of this free glut without an ensuing mutiny.

Weedy Chicken Kiev

weed kiev

 

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And the Organised Shall Have Leeks in Abundance..

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Those with greater restraint and foresight than I will still have leeks in their allotment. Gorging and under-sowing saw my harvest vanish before Christmas. However, with a little planning, a prayer against allium weevil and a spot of succession planting, the organised allotmenteer can harvest leeks from August to May. And in the depths, as we are, of the Hungry Gap, the humble leek becomes something of a saviour.

If you have a glut of leeks, here are a few ways to use them, some old favourites, some new beaus:

Carpaccio of sea bream with confit leeks

leek confit

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A Sage Harvest

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sage leafPerennial herb pruning season is nigh. The rosemary bushes are burgeoning, the sage shrubs are rampant and the blacksmith is sharpening my shears in preparation for the annual cull. (Ok, I made that last bit up, but wouldn’t it be charming if that still happened.)

Our sage has become particularly unruly and I’ll be cutting it right back almost to the base, leaving only a few shooting points. A kill or cure option no doubt, but they do turn terribly straggly and unkempt if you don’t show them a firm hand. The result of said firm hand is an armful of furry, fragrant leaves that need either using up. I can’t bring myself to compost such as harvest, so here is some sage advice for anyone in the same situation (oh come on, you surely can’t have expected me to hold off for long. Just one tiny, weeny pun? No? Ok, no more, I promise.)

Sage Tea

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A Glut of Sunshine: A Thai allotment and the meal it grew

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Ah sunshine. That most elusive of luxuries at this time of year here in Blighty. The buds on the trees, the snowdrops in bloom, the lighter nights are but a tantalising reminder of that long forgotten thing called Summer.

Well the g&g household could stand it no longer. So this week we shut up the greenhouse, packed the kitchen sink and travelled to Thailand for a week of sunshine. And, as it happened, some allotmenting and cooking too.

Def. Busman’s holiday (noun): a vacation or day off from work spent in an activity closely resembling one’s work.

The resort we visited (Aleenta Hua Hin) not only had its own kitchen garden, but also offered the opportunity to spend a day perusing the food markets with the chef and then cooking up some lunch in the restaurant kitchen. Predictably, I jumped at the chance.

First stop: the market and an array of fruit and veg I’ve never even imagined before: a million varieties of aubergine; grapes the size of plums; mysterious little mango-apricot creatures, fresh green peppercorns; live eels, dried squid… you name it. We taste everything. Apart from the eels.

thai market aubergines thai market Continue reading

A Guest Glut for Ross & Ross

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A dank and dirty February is torment to kitchen gardeners. Seed catalogues have been thumbed, greenhouses scrubbed and all are itching to get planting for the new season. But instead of carefully nurturing a small army of seed trays, most, me included are stuck inside watching potatoes chitting on a rain-spattered windowsill.

There’s only one solution: comfort food.

And with little to sustain us in the veg garden, I turn to the lovely and local Ross and Ross Food.  Very kindly, they sent me some of their preserved goodies to sample in return for writing a guest spot on their blog. And no, no one paid for any coverage or kind words – how vulgar. It was no chore at all to trough through their terrines and chutneys. Better that than chasing the empty seed trays that are blowing around the allotment.

You can see my guest spot on the Ross & Ross blog here. And the recipes are also here below:

Ham hock terrine with a crispy soft boiled egg

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Glut of Cookbooks: Days Eight to Ten – Rarebit, Snaps and Saffron

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Into the heavy lifting of this 10 day challenge and I’m starting to feel the effects of cooking a new recipe every day. It really takes some organisation. Anyway, I’ve kept up with the cooking, though I’m behind with the blogging. But you weren’t counting were you?

You were? Well don’t. It’s not a race.

Day Eight is a warming, simple supper for a wet and dreary Thursday evening provided by Nigel Slater’s Tender Volume 2: Rabbit and Apple. Rabbit? No Rarebit really, but he calls it Rabbit. And why not. His recipe. He can.

rarebit-511

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Glut of Cookbooks: Day Five – The Ethicurean Almond and Pear Cake

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cake mix-357Day Five of the Cookbook glut challenge is without doubt the most sublime yet. The Ethicurean cookbook is a joy to behold and this Almond, Pear, Chocolate and Cardamom cake is typical of its relaxed but intelligent style. Gluten free, but not righteously so, it makes an ideal dessert thanks to the moist, unctuous texture. In the g&g household, it doesn’t make it that far. We eat it all by mid-afternoon.

ethic cake-366

Bake it. Now. That is all.

Glut of Cookbooks: Day Two & Three

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slate chicken-338Day two of the cookbook glut, and a warming supper of ras-al-hanout chicken with pearled spelt and cabbage from Nigel Slater’s Eat. I confess that whilst I’ve loved his ideas, I’ve not found this book very specific in its instructions. I suspect that the Twitter-inspired urge to keep the copy short and snappy has been at the expense of clarity. For example, if one were to, as instructed, add the powdered spices to the pan after quickly browning the chicken, the result would be spices burnt to a crisp. No matter, the combinations of flavour in most of the recipes, including this one, are an inspiration despite the gaps in the practicalities.

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