23 March 2015

Veal chops, Marsala and wild garlic

Veal used to be one of those meats that, like foie gras, one was not supposed to eat. It was pretty tasty, but the way it was produced was not very humane. Happily, welfare standards are much better than they used to be for veal calves, at least in the UK. I have to say I am pretty pleased, being partial as I am to a nice bit of veal now and then. English rose veal has grown in popularity in recent years, and in many ways it is an ethical choice for us carnivores who like to know that our meat lived reasonably decent lives before hitting our plates. One of the sad facts of the dairy industry in this country is that on many farms, male dairy calves are of no use and hence destroyed at birth. If more people ate veal, more of these animals would be given some kind of life and a useful role in the food chain.

22 March 2015

Ground elder frittata

We recently did that thing, the one where you decide to move out of South London to Brighton, or to be more accurate, Hove. (I hesitate to conform to stereotype and use the word 'actually'.) We have a new garden. It is sunny, and a good size - a little overgrown, but full of potential. We have started clearing the garden, but with the onset of spring I noticed the appearance of ground elder. Ground elder is a fairly invasive, fast-growing plant, which can be hard to clear from a garden. It is a member of the carrot family, and has leaves that look a bit like celery leaves. Ground elder is edible, and I have heard that in the spring it makes good eating. I picked a young sprig, and gave it a nibble. It had a mild, pleasant flavour - somewhere between celery and parsley (both of which it is related to). Surprisingly tasty for a plant that can be the bane of many gardeners' lives. The flavour gets stronger and less pleasant as the plant gets older, particularly once it has set flower. Its edibility is in fact the reason why we have ground elder in the UK. Apparently it was introduced here by the Romans as a food plant.

Ground elder in the border

4 March 2015

What's in season in March

March heralds the beginning of spring. Not that it necessarily brings milder weather; apparently in England we are more likely to get snow in March than in December. The days are definitely getting longer, and that in itself springs many plants into action. For those excited about eating a plethora of exciting UK-grown spring produce, March can be something of a disappointment. Early spring is what used to be known as the hungry gap – a hiatus between the disappearance of winter staples and the appearance of the first spring produce. If you have a veg plot, March is a good time to start sowing seeds, and thinking of all the produce you will be harvesting later in the year, rather than a time when much can actually be harvested.

1 March 2015

Trouble with gluten?

I have been baking bread at home now for several years. I find it a deeply satisfying process. There is something magical about taking four basic ingredients: flour, water, salt and yeast (sometimes in the form of a sourdough starter), and with a bit of kneading, fermentation, shaping and baking, turning them into a loaf of bread. And what bread too! The flavour of home-baked bread far surpasses that of supermarket bread and much of that found in high street bakeries.