9 May 2017

Wild Garlic Focaccia

As anyone with even a vague interest in wild food knows, spring is the season for wild garlic - a pungent wild allium which grows in woodlands, and which has become very popular in recent years. A couple of weeks ago, I was out walking and found a vast sea of wild garlic stretching as far as I could see into the trees. I picked a bag full, stuck it in my rucksack and carried on walking. I spent the next few days making pesto with it, chucking it in a stir fry, mixing it through ragu, and anything else I could think of. A week later I went walking with my Mum and she turned up with a very full carrier bag of wild garlic, and I had to think of more ways of using it. I made a wild garlic focaccia, which was delicious.

A sea of wild garlic...

3 May 2017

First pickings from the asparagus bed

A couple of years ago I wrote a post about planting out an asparagus bed. I was very excited about the prospect of picking my own asparagus. However, we had to be patient. The asparagus crowns need to spend a couple of years establishing themselves before they can be picked. This year, the bed being in its third year, we were finally able to pick some asparagus. It was with great excitement that in early April I spotted the first spears poking through the ground. Several days later they were tall enough to pick and we had our first harvest. On the first picking there were only a couple of spears. Delicious but not quite enough to satisfy the appetite. By the end of April we were able to pick enough for a plateful. They were delicious!

Our first asparagus spears

25 April 2017

What to do in the veg garden in April

There is lots to do in the vegetable garden in April and relatively little to harvest. But by putting the work in now you should be able to reap the rewards later in the year. April is an exciting month to be outside as the whole garden springs into life. Fruit trees put on amazing displays of blossom. Wild garlic pushes its pungent leaves through the soil. Seedlings emerge and put on rapid growth. Weeds, too, can appear everywhere. And if you don't watch out, slugs and snails can munch their way through rows of seedlings.


23 March 2017

Braised mutton shoulder with borlotti beans

Mutton used to be one of the most popular meats in Britain. Due to changing tastes and changing farming practices, it has fallen massively out of fashion since the 1960s. There has been a resurgent interest in mutton in the last few years, but it is still something of a rarity. This is a great shame, as mutton has a fantastic flavour; stronger and more intense than lamb. The fat distribution varies by breed, but mutton usually has more fat marbling than lamb. Because of this, it is well suited to slow cooking. And when it comes to slow cooking mutton, my favourite cut is the shoulder.

Braised mutton shoulder with borlotti beans

6 March 2017

What to do in the vegetable garden in March

With March comes spring, and things start to get underway in the vegetable garden. March can still be pretty cold, even at times even snowy. Hardier crops can be sown outside, and there are various plants that are worth starting off inside. However, it is easy to get carried away and sow too much too early. Because of how varied the weather can be, it is difficult to give hard and fast rules as to when to start sowing. One of the best signs to look for is weed seedlings. If the weeds are germinating, start sowing veg. Here is what I am up to in the garden this month:

26 February 2017

What to do in the vegetable garden in February

February, for me, is the start of the gardening year. The days get longer and the sun stronger. The very first signs of spring appear as the garden starts to shrug off its winter dormancy. February is too early to do much sowing, but is the month to plan and prepare for the gardening year ahead. It is a time to harvest the last of the winter veg, and to start preparing the ground for the first spring sowings. Here's what I am up to in the garden this month.

Preparing beds

15 February 2017

Seville Orange Possets

Citrus fruits are one of the culinary joys of winter. Their bright colours and zingy flavours bring a ray of sunshine to cold days and dark evenings. Seville oranges are a bitter variety of orange, available only for a few short weeks in January and early February. Seville oranges are usually used for making marmalade, but their culinary uses go well beyond preserves. Possets are one of my favourite desserts. They are easy to make, and can be made in advance if you have guests coming round and simply whipped out the fridge for serving. Possets are typically made with lemons, but work equally as well with Seville oranges, which give a nice twist to this classic dessert.

Seville oranges