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 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 […]
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. […]
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. […]
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. […]
There's little more satisfying than a festive leftover
A cracking little winter harvest
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: […]
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 […]
The last of the beetroot glut series. And, very quickly, I promise… This is nice. […]
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? […]
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. […]
Green curly dwarf kale is a late season staple in my allotment. I should clarify: it’s the kale that is green curly and small and there is, sadly, no green curly dwarf so honoured as to have a kale named after him. Anyway, it’s a goodun – hardy, easy to grow, prolific, tasty, nutritious. Just one problem. Caterpillars. And not caterpillars like those the poor broccoli suffers. With those beasties, at least you know you’ve got them, eating, as they do, everything and leaving your broccoli a stumpy skeleton. Oh no. Kale caterpillars (I really feel it should be Kale Katerpillars, don’t you?) are stealthy little buggers. To begin with, they’re kale coloured. Plus, they hide themselves in the curly edges of the kale and surreptitiously venture out, under cover of darkness no doubt, to nibble at the young leaves before retreating to their hiding place until the next raid. Upshot is – they’re virtually impossible to spot, even when cleaning the freshly picked leaves. But it’s ok because they are quite obvious once the kale is cooked and on the plate… Mostly because they turn white when cooked. Anyway, they pick off easily when cooked, and the g&g household seems to have survived this method during the recent kale glut. Here’s what I did with the kale and caterpillar glut: […]
Blackberry picking leaves me a nostalgic and dewy-eyed sop. Perhaps it’s because I grew up on Brambly Hedge books, believing one could live in an oak tree and rural England really was full of enterprising field mice with umbrellas. Or perhaps it’s because my soft spot for Alan Bennett, who invented the verb ‘to blackberry’ (“I blackberry up the lane..” and so forth), transports me, when I blackberry, to some whimsical scene in which I’m a lonely-yet-contented woman picking blackberries and pondering the bittersweet moments of my life. The dog, in contrast, is incandescent that his walk is being constantly and unpredictably interrupted at every turn. Even a lick of blackberry and white chocolate ice-cream doesn’t appease him. […]
I have finally crawled out from under the avalanche of courgettes to write some recipes. There's no escape from them. They just keep on giving and the shelf in my fridge is bowing under [...]
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...
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