It's almost that time again.. The perfect excuse for a walk in the countryside this weekend.. Eldeflower Cordial Recipe here
Alliums as garden flowers have continued to soar in popularity, year on year.. And no wonder; the brilliant array of colors and forms available, plus an reliable appearance at Chelsea Flower Show, mean that these ornamental members of the ever-brilliant Onion Family are being planted in their droves right now.
So let's not forget their functional cousins! The ones we can actually eat!
Garlic, Shallots, Red, White and Brown Onions.. All of these can and should be going in the ground now too. Yes, they can be planted in Spring, but for the fattest results (and the greater choice in variety) then you should be looking at an autumn planting.
They are some of the easiest, tolerant, most well-behaved veggies you can grow.
Try it for yourself. Need help or planting tips? Click here for a separate post, which gives all the info you need.
Ok, I know; it's just cold lettuce soup, but vichyssoise sounds so much more inviting! There's something a little uninspiring-sounding about 'lettuce soup' - like a description of how the veg patch looks right now!
So let's be posh, and delicate, and delicious, and serve our guests Vichyssoise (and use up that salad glut at the same time!)
The METHOD is simple; Sweat the aromats in the olive oil, then add potato, bay and stock. Simmer till potato is soft then add your greenery. Cook for only a few mins, so the lettuce softens but doesn't start to loose it's colour.
Blend with stick blender then stir in Creme fraiche if using. Chill down for a couple of hours before serving.
The word May is thought to come from the Sanskrit 'mah', meaning 'to grow'. Sounds pretty logical to me..! Even the most office-bound of us cannot fail to notice the huge change in the landscape that happens over this month, as the last traces of brown give way to green and the countryside becomes alive with bug, blossom and bloom,,,
Mayflower. Said to be the first flower that the Pilgrim Fathers saw when they arrived at Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts, this is how Epigaea repens got it's colloquial name.
For this reason, it was chosen as the State Flower of Massachusetts.
A small, spreading, evergreen shrub, the flowers can be pale pink or white. It is rarely seen outside of its native situation on the East Coast of the US and has been in decline in recent years due to loss of habitat.
WILD GARLIC PESTO
Be sure to take your loppers!
Let me just say that I'm not advocating cutting down our native woodland willy-nilly, no sir..
But if you, or someone you know, has even a small patch of woodland, there will no doubt be hazel growing somewhere in it.. Get your hands on it now!
Make it your TOP JOB for this gardening weekend we call 'Easter', and coppice yourself as much as your arms can take! Hazel will be coming into leaf any moment now, and you really want to catch it before that happens (it may root in your garden if it's already too lively!)
Not just useful for peas; use these versatile, bendable beauties on anything that requires support or protection through the summer, in the allotment, and the flower borders. Even something quite rudimentary, as above, still looks charmingly rustic, but get creative and try your hand at hoops and domes - it's easier than you might think..
Make sure to cut a mixture of feathery tops, for protecting & supporting twining plants (like peas), and longer, straighter poles, for structures such as below.
I never think I'll use all the piles and piles of sticks I lug into the barn each February..
But I always do...
For further tips and weaving methods check out this helpful page from the gardeners Upton Grey (which is a totally charming garden to visit during the summer months).
Better than a rhubarb crumble, these flapjacks are chock-full of wholesome oats, fragrant fruit and some special ingredients to add that extra bit of secret deliciousness.
Quickly roasting the rhubarb first intensifies its flavour and sweetness. YUM!
Line the base and sides of a 20x30cm (approx) tin with non stick baking parchment and preheat the oven to 180℃/Fan 160℃.
Get yourself along to a Potato & Seed Day near you this month. Seed swaps, heritage and heirloom seeds, potatoes sold by individual tuber and advice on tap from the growers themselves! There really is no smarter way to get stocked up for the coming growing season.
Inspired by a post Christmas cupboard clear out..
If you made a Christmas cake or pudding last year, then chances are you will, like me, have random bits of fruit and nuts leftover, that have already been pushed to the back of the cupboard...
This recipe is a perfect re-hash of these bits into brilliant lunchbox bites, or a pre/post workout snack.
POP your POWER!!
Adapt the recipe to whatever you have hanging around - all quantities are approximate.
Makes approx 16
Start with the nut butter and add the processed nuts and fruit until you have a mixture that looks like you could work into balls.
Add the other ingredients as desired - the wet/dryness of the mixture should stay roughly the same with the addition of the honey/cacao & seeds. Taste a bit and add any 'extras' you might like to.
Shape into balls, no bigger than ping-pong size, then roll in cacao and coconut to seal.
Keep in the fridge for up to a week (in tupperware or sealed in tin foil).
Perfect fodder for a pre-breakfast run.
And other cruciferae.. wot wot..
Winter is all about the cruciferous vegetables for me - you know, that lovely group of cabbagey-type things like Broccoli, Cauliflower, all kinds of Cabbage (of course), Sprouts, Kale, Kohl Rabi... you get the picture...
They are all members of the same family (and are commonly known as Brassicas).
They are a super-nutritious group of veggies - the HIGHEST in Vitamins A & C and also Vitamin K, which is known to have super inflammation reducing properties (ie cancers).
Mostly frost-hardy, winter really is these plants' time to shine. They would have been some of the few things our veg-growing ancestors would have been pulling from their gardens at this time of year, and for some reason, I do find myself drawn to a shimmering white cauli during these dark days..
If you're not usually a fan of these somewhat 'odorous' veggies, but are willing to give them another go, then these few easy and inclusive recipe ideas might just convince you of their culinary worth. Say goodbye to the soggy-sprout!
FIRST THINGS FIRST though.. PLEASE buy organic. This group of vegetables is one of the most sprayed and pesticide heavy - because it attracts so many predators.
Most supermarkets have organic and if you have a farm shop near you they will probably have something close, or at least better than a commercially grown alternative.
Red Cabbage is SO good raw. Peppery and crunchy. Thinly slice and mix with grated carrot to make a quick 'slaw (dress as you like) A few caraway seeds and/or mustard seeds in this add an extra flavour dimension.
OR, incorporate thin slices into stir fry rice. Those handy quick-rice packs we all buy now..? Well stir fry rather than microwave and you can add a handful of red cabbage (or other veg) slivers and herbs/spices.
The Humble Cauliflower.
Ok, I know I've got a tough job here.. There couldn't be a much more anaemic looking vegetable than the Cauli. Poor old thing. First rule DO NOT BOIL!! If there is ever a way to suck life from a vegetable its through boiling!
ROAST golf-ball sized florets with lemon juice, sea salt & paprika for 25 mins at 200 degrees till slightly charred. Quite an elegant little party nibble, actually..
RAW - Make into couscous or add tiny florets to a salad with walnuts/almonds & blue cheese.
CURRY - there is no better mop for indian spices than a cauli. FACT. Just roast with indian spices (as above) if you can't be bothered with the whole curry-making malarky.
Argh! What to do with those big, weird-looking, rigid leaves?!
KALE CHIPS is the way to go.
They are dark and irony and rich tasting when cooked like this. Like crispy seaweed, minus about 400 calories!
Prep as shown and toss in a bowl with a little olive oil, sea salt and a few chili flakes. Arrange on tray as shown and roast for about 10 mins at 220 degrees. Serve immediately, as a side or a nibble ('crisps'!)
In addition to