here is more bamboo than branch in our cherry. More trussing than tree. No, it isn't very sightly. But it's the only way of keeping the birds off your cherry glut. It was the invention of my live-in handyman (AKA best beloved) and it, coupled with a studious watering and feeding regime has produced a truck load of cherries. This glut is simply too miraculous to use it as mere ingredient in a recipe. I can't bring myself to cook with them. Instead, we sit in the garden beneath the shade of the cherry tree and trough our way through most of the harvest. But even I can't eat a whole tree's worth of cherries in one sitting. I persuade myself to save some and to put them to good use: Cherry and Almond Tart.
Cucumbers have no patience. When they arrive in the greenhouse they arrive in almost biblical quantity. They enjoy but a fleeting window between too small and grotesquely (and inedibly) large. They don't stay fresh for more than 48 hours once picked. And once they start cropping, there's no stopping them. The only way to deal with this sort of attitude in a vegetable is to beat it at its own game: eat them. Eat them all. And eat them with relish. Do your worst, cucumbers, we can't get enough of you. I think this calls for a quick fire round of fast and simple cucumber recipes that will whip through your glut very pleasurably, don't you? Right then: Cucumber Water. 'Pickled' Cucumber and Salmon Tartare. Henricks and Cucumber. Cheers!
Poor herbs. Ever the bridesmaid, never the bride. Stuck on the side of a cheap plate of pub grub and insultingly referred to as 'garnish'. They don't even get a space in the allotment. Instead, I dot them around the flower beds in whatever gap I can find and leave them to fend off the onslaught of geraniums un-aided. Never the star of the show. Always the support act. Poor herbs. Well not today. Despite the neglect, the herbs absolutely love this weather and are thriving to the point of glutting. There are handfuls of them. Too many for a mere garnish. So today they take centre stage as the main ingredients in two new dishes: Herby Oatcakes and Lemon Balm and Lemon Thyme Sorbet
My neighbour's vegetable patch is sinfully fecund. Everything is cropping on time, with abundance and perfectly unscathed by bird or beast. We, on the other hand, have zippo in our allotment. In this climate, even the kindest gesture fans the flames of my covetousness. For example, my neighbour very generously, though not without a hint of smugness, offered me some of his strawberry glut the other day. Given that my strawberry patch is weeks away from harvesting, I swallowed my pride, thanked him graciously and hoofed it with a good two kilos of strawberries. Only one thing could come of this: Strawberry Afternoon Tea on the Lawn...
Some friends of mine came over to play in the kitchen yesterday afternoon. They are 10 and 8 years old and both demon cooks. Their favourite foods are French onion soup or sushi, they can bake a mean cake totally unaided and last time I went to their house they served a pre-dinner juice in passionfruit casings with umbrellas…. So now you can understand the proficiency of palette I’m dealing with. Frozen pizza and a Walls ice-cream would not cut it with these ladies. We spent the afternoon preparing a lavish supper for ourselves. The idea being that, having prepared a simple-yet-everso-slightly-chefy 3 course menu (below… we made a mess as you can see) with my occasional interventions and, I’d like to think, sage advice, they could go home and recreate it by themselves whenever they next hosted a dinner party (you’d be amazed what the under-10s get up to these days). […]
This week's glut of the week is a (smaller than hoped) bucket of mackerel, freshly caught on holiday in Lyme Regis. Making the most of twitchingly fresh fish means recipes like sushi maki rolls and barbequed mackerel. Plus, how to make perfect sushi rice and how not to get caught pretending you caught Sea Bream...
Mackerel caught at Lyme Regis. Recipes to follow soon
Ah radishes. The jewels of late Spring. Their shameless red skin against the dank, soggy soil: a beacon that heralds the imminent arrival of summer’s full show. The invigorating kick of heat that brings hope during the Hungry Gap. Quick. Easy. Tasty. There’s no downside to a radish. […]
From horror to hero: how to cook edible weeds like fat hen. This week I show you a weed souffle recipe
Copyright Wes West This past weekend I fed 80 people. Some of them more than once. I’m not a caterer. My mental arithmetic isn’t good enough. I shudder at the thought of rented crockery. I pale at the mere mention of long tables and stackable chairs. And yet here I stand, on a glorious Saturday evening, looking at 80 people sipping Pimms on a skin-kissed lawn and expecting to be fed in an hour. […]
My home brewed alcoholic Lovage Cordial.
“Oh you simply have to grow it”. The cliched phrase from every kitchen gardener. Perhaps even a “oh heavens, the stuff you buy in the supermarket doesn’t even compare to the home grown version” from the more sanctimonious. And yes, most home grown produce tastes far better than shop bought. But how much of that is the taste of smugness at having created such beauty rather than a genuine improvement on shop bought? What really is worth a cook growing themselves? I attempted, very subjectively and unscientifically I’ll admit, to answer this question when I gave a talk at the first Witney Food and Drink Festival last weekend and I thought I’d share it. So here’s my Top 10. Pay attention. Quiz and debate (heated I imagine) at the end: Hardy. Strong. Good doers over winter. Gorgeous as cheesy leeks on toast. […]
As we huddle in the staff hut of the Daylesford market garden*, warming our hands with chipped mugs of tea whilst watching the storm outside and wondering if that was it for Spring, the unmistakable smell of lovage wafts around us. It’s been harvested that morning and its pungency gets us wondering: what’s lovage for anyway? Overpoweringly fiery when raw, it’s too intense to be something you’d nonchalantly chuck in a dish for subtle flavour and a little colour. How could anyone use a whole bunch of it, let alone the field of the stuff that’s just been picked? And thus my challenge is set. I bring a bunch home. The smell lingers in the car, on my hands, in the fridge. But I will not be beaten. Google is no help. Apart from soup (yawn) there is some talk of an alcoholic cordial made with lovage (more of which later) and the only other option I find is a soothing lovage foot soak (here should you need one). I do discover that it’s been cultivated since Pliny’s time, so someone must have found good in it. I decide to pair its distinctive aniseed notes with some of my favourite things – booze, cheese, biscuits. Here’s the result: Lovage curd cheese: […]
The interweb wires of Britain are alive with the joys of rhubarb this week as food blogs the land over experiment with cyberspace's collective rhubarb glut. After by rhubarb-induced giddiness last week, I'm [...]
The dog and I went trespassing this morning. The come hither wafts of wild garlic in the wood adjoining our path were too enticing to resist. A valid defence in court for any cook, [...]
Yes. Spoons. Tablespoons if we're going to be exact. You would not believe the number of tablespoons chefs use in a day. And this week I am being uncharacteristically chefy. I'm back at [...]
I thought Nettle Sorbet was looking a bit lonely in my post last week. I just blobbed it into a bowl and tarted it up with a grating of lemon zest. I hadn't make [...]
I do not recommend donning marigolds mid dog walk and charging headlong into the hedgerows. Fellow walkers look suspicious; their dogs tilt their heads quizzically. But, the derision of man and beast is nothing [...]