31 August 2014

Globe artichokes in the autumn

When I started this blog back in April of this year, my very first post was about my attempts to grow globe artichokes. I thought I would post a brief update about what the artichoke plants have been doing; not least as I have found it difficult to find much information about what the growing habits of globe artichokes are in the UK. I would be interested to hear from anyone else who grows globe artichokes to see if their experiences are similar to mine.

26 August 2014

Wild mushrooms

Autumn heralds what for me is the highlight of the foraging year: wild mushrooms. Although there are a few varieties of mushroom that arrive in the spring and some that will appear during any damp period in summer, the main season for mushrooms in the UK stretches from about mid-August until the first frosts. Visiting my parents over the August bank holiday weekend, I went on my first mushroom hunt of the season, and found a nice array of boletes, chantrelles, hedgehog, field and parasol mushrooms.

22 August 2014

Tagliatelle with courgette, tomato and mozzarella

Pasta forms the cornerstone of many week-night suppers in the Turpin household: it is quick to cook - many pasta dishes can be prepared in under 30 minutes, doesn't create much washing up - two pans max, and is super tasty. This is a classic week-night pasta dish for the summer, when both tomatoes and courgettes are in season and can be picked from the garden. Like many pasta dishes, this recipe is pretty simple and relies on using quality ingredients for really good flavours. This recipe will feed two.

20 August 2014


Tomatoes, like their relatives potatoes and aubergines, were brought to Europe by the conquistadors. Apparently the Spanish originally regarded these small round fruits as more decorative than edible. When the Spanish governed the Kingdom of Naples in the sixteenth century, they took tomatoes with them, and it was the (hungry) Neopolitan peasants who first started eating tomatoes, or so the story goes. Today tomatoes are a huge part of Italian culinary culture, and the habit of eating tomatoes has spread throughout Europe.

13 August 2014

Plum cobbler

Sometime around mid-August, hints appear that autumn is not far off - it gets a little darker in the evenings, and the cooler mornings bring heavy dews, which collect on the spiders' webs that suddenly seem to be everywhere in my garden. It is still summer, but it is definitely late summer. It is at this time of year that I start to think about cooked puddings. Plums, in season in late summer and early autumn, are lovely in a cooked dessert. Victoria plums, in particular, develop a lovely deep pink colour when cooked.

10 August 2014

Plum chutney

Plums are one of the great English summer fruits. When we bought our house, we were lucky enough to acquire a mature plum tree in the garden, and each August it produces a copious harvest. The fruits tend to ripen more or less at once, and we usually pick them over about 10-14 days. I like to eat a few raw, and plums are great cooked in crumbles, cobbler or tarts. There are always far more than we can use, so we preserve the bulk of them. Plums make one of my favourite jams, and they make a pretty mean ketchup too (I was converted to the plum variety of ketchup after a great tip from my friend Lorena, @lolylena on Twitter). This year we also made chutney. Plum chutney is a classic fruity chutney, which makes a great accompaniment to cheese or a pork pie. This recipe will make about 6-7 jars. You'll need a large pan (I use a 28cm stewpan), or use two smaller pans.

6 August 2014

Grilled courgettes preserved under oil

Regular readers of this blog will have noticed a courgette theme emerging amongst recent postings. My courgette plants are producing fruit faster than I can pick them, and I have now declared an official glut. Once a glut is called, the vegetable concerned needs to be preserved for later consumption. Although courgettes, and marrows, can be a useful ingredient in chutneys and piccalilli, this is my favourite way of preserving courgettes as the main ingredient. It involves grilling them slowly, preferably over a barbecue (which of course adds to the fun), and then preserving them under oil. Courgettes preserved in this way make a great accompaniment to cured meats, or cheeses such as ricotta or burrata.