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And the Organised Shall Have Leeks in Abundance..

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 […]

A Sage Harvest

Perennial 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 […]

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

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. […]

A Guest Glut for Ross & Ross

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 […]

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

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. […]

Glut of Cookbooks: Day Six & Seven – Bambi and Butter

I was given, as one is, the fore leg of a young deer a while ago. I thanked the benevolent hunter warmly but promptly vac-packed it and stuck it in the freezer having no clue what to do with it. […]

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

Day 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 [...]

Glut of Cookbooks: Day Two & Three

Day 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. […]

Glut of Cookbooks: Day One

  In January, it’s aways troublesome to find seasonal recipes that don’t involve braising, stews, mash and stomach-cementing stodge. So this Bells of St Clement’s ceviche from Tom P-B’s Let’s Eat is a welcome bit of seasonal zing in a notoriously unzingy month using, as it does, pomegranate and Seville oranges. […]

A Glut for the Hungry Gap: Cookbooks

Ten. Count them. Ten. There are ten new cooking-related books on my bookshelf this month. That's one for every other day of 2014 so far. This cannot continue.There's nothing growing in the allotment [...]

A Glut of Plans and Seed Catalogues: The 2014 Patch Plan

It's all about planning this week. Too cold. Too dark. Too soggy for digging the veg beds. Too early to plant seeds. there's only one thing for it: light a fire. Make a [...]

A Glut of Christmas Leftovers

There's little more satisfying than a festive leftover

A Hedgerow Christmas Cake

I've never made a Christmas cake before. That I've eaten homemade Christmas cake every year for thirty-odd years and never made my own is testament both to the extraordinary baking skills of my [...]

Recipes to Feed a Crowd or What I Cooked up for Cotswold Table

G&G was out on the road this weekend at the excellent foodie market, Cotswold Table. And golly did we have fun. Talked ’til I was horse (nothing new there then). Bought too much stuff (ditto). And showed the good folk of the Cotswolds what I get up to by cooking up a whole host of seasonal tasters and samples. My brief to myself for these tasters was: make it seasonal, make it extremely tasty, make it cheap, make it easy to produce in volume (footfall was nearing a thousand). Given that this is also my brief for most Christmas gathering menus, I thought the recipes might be relevant at this festive time and so here they are: Spinach, Cheddar and Pinenut Frittata […]

Recipes to Feed a Crowd…

…or What I Cooked up for Cotswold Table

The Dawn of the Black Radish Harvest

A cracking little winter harvest

The Slow Depletion of Sloe Gin Barrels

Been a while. Sorry. But the reason is a just one: gin. Sloe gin. Aside from shoveling the odd tonne of mushroom compost, there’s not much activity up at the allotment. My estrangement from brussel sprouts (they’re always blown) and my acrimonious break up with leeks (the allium weevils got there first) mean I’m a little short on veg gluts. (And why is it, by the way, that growing veg always feels like a volatile romantic entanglement? Is it just me? It is? Oh, right.) No matter. The hedgerow will provide a glut: they are covered in sloes. But before I can justify making the annual batch of sloe gin, it’s become something of a tradition to make sure the current sloe gin stocks are suitably depleted. And being around countryside folk for whom a bottle of sloe gin is an ideal gift-to-take-to-dinner-party, we have a far few bottles. And hence the delay in this post. For there’s only so much sloe gin one can use in a week without incurring side effects. And I should also add that it’s virtually impossible to take half decent photos of the food you’ve made for your blog post whilst sampling said sloe gin ingredient. Hence the lack of photos this week. Still, I’m glad (if a little jaded) to report that the sloe gin glut is conquered and here’s how: […]

Pumpkin Recipes for Grown-ups – No ghosts, ghouls or trick-or-treating toddlers invited

It doesn’t take much pumpkin to constitute a pumpkin glut. I have just one this year, but, at 6kg, one is plenty thank you. I confess I didn’t grow it myself. (Come on, of course I didn’t. Do you imagine I’d be nearly so nonchalant about its staggering weight if I’d nurtured it to 6kg myself!) It’s an heirloom variety called Rouge Vif d’Etempes and  was grown by more skilled hands than mine. They’re a good doer this variety: tasty (not like the watery, sweet sickly things you buy to carve from the supermarket), big and the best bit is that they turn orange when they’re quite small so you can stagger the harvest. Other pumpkins remain an obstinate, and inedible, green until they are fully grown. Once peeled and de-seeded, my 6kg darling yields around 4kg of flesh. Perfect for big batch cooking. Rather like any of the recipes below: Pumpkin and Sage Risotto […]

Wordless Wednesday (or… an off-topic but lovely Autumnal dog walk)

Canapes Continued…

Still in the grip of Canapé Fever here in the g&g household. At this rate I shall have to host a cocktail party just to use them up. This recipe is a particular favourite – seasonal and simple. (It makes a delicious salad too should you prefer not to prissy around with canapés): […]

A Glut of People Stood Around Chatting Politely over Drinks and Nibbles

“Do come for Drinks And Nibbles”. So easily uttered. So sorely regretted. Nibbles. Gone are the days when a bowl of Twiglets and a hedgehog of cheddar and pineapple sticks would suffice. And GBBO champion Style-Over-Substance-Done-Good-Frances, I might add, has a lot to answer for in upping the stakes further still with her astonishing allotment canapes. Anyway, I’m not, as you can imagine, one to fiddle around with such things. And I do not believe in poaching quails eggs. Or in vol-au-vents. I prefer the Venetian approach to nibbles: ciccheti – chunky mouthfuls of gutsy flavours, unpretentiously served with every glass of Aperol spritzer supped so authentically by every true Venetian. […]

A Brief Beetroot Postscript

The last of the beetroot glut series. And, very quickly, I promise… This is nice. […]

Beetroot and….. Vodka Sorbet Recipe

Bleakness comes by degrees I find. In sharp relief to the record summer we had, the current drizzle seems decidedly bleak. However, it’s not really until the depths of February that one really starts to feel one is living in a Russian novel. Still, bleakness enough there is to inspire an Eastern European palette-cleanser. And what better fodder of bleakness than a good warming bison grass Vodka and the earthy, hardy flavours of Detroit beetroot? […]

Beetroot Week: Beetroot and Apple Remoulade

I’m very grateful to beetroot. I’ve not had the most fecund of growing seasons, but the beetroot, despite a shaky start, has been the most prolific and certainly the most pest-free crop this year. Unlike the courgette glut, which warranted a second Glut of the Week slot simply because it bullied it’s way to the front, threatening me with 3 kilo marrows, the beetroot gets a second slot because it is a jewel – a blessed, understated gem of loveliness – that just waits quietly and keeps cropping, sure that hard work alone will make it favourite. We’ll begin with a light lunch recipe: Beetroot and Apple Remoulade. […]