Monday, June 22, 2009

June 22nd, 2009

Summer time is salad time and our lettuces are growing well. I have been succession planting them so we can have lots of lovely salads throughout the summer. This one I put together using fresh lettuce, some sauteed butternut squash with a bit of balsamic vinegar, some tomatoes, cucumber, chunks of goats cheese and some pine nuts. :) Quick and yummy.

I recently purchased a book from John over at Allotment Forum I belong to. It is his newest book Low Cost Living. He has lots of lovely tips and hints on how to be more frugal in these struggling economic times. And in one of his chapters he has some recipes for using wild foods. And this was the result from his recipe for Elderflower cordial. Brian and I had been on the look out for some citric acid and once I found some then I was ready to make my cordial. On the way home from town we picked some elderflowers along one of the paths that we take. You need about 20 of the heads and along with a few other ingredients. You let set over night to steep.

This has been allot of fun making and sharing with friends. First off I can say the smell takes a bit getting used to. It reminds me a bit of cat wee and the colour isn't too far off either. But like blue cheese and dragon fruits once you get past the smell, then the flavour is something to really enjoy.

We like having ours with a bit of sparkling water and homegrown sliced strawberries and a sprig of mint.

And it was a big hit with the guys down at the pub, once they quit telling all the jokes about urine samples and that I was in the wrong place ....I should have taken it to the doctor's surgery. :D
To try John's recipe you can find it in his new book or you can find similar recipes on the Internet. It is something we will be making every spring from now on.
I have been bitten by the preserving bug of late. Guess it is something that is going hand in hand with the gardening. I remember canning quarts of green beans and loads of pickles and jelly(jam) making back in the US. Over here in the UK it isn't as easy to find the equipment needed to do this. I have gotten together some jam jars, lids and some bits and bobs and just this past week found a big enough stock pan to do some water bath canning in. :) Well actually I couldn't wait for my stuff to grow to start making chutney and pickles. So I cheated and bought some produce from our local Aldi store, who at the moment has plums at 49p a punnet. It took about 2 punnets along with a bag of apples to make my spicy plum chutney. I modified the original recipe again to make just half the quantity which is sorta double the recipe here....Spicy Plum Chutney. I ended up with 3 1/2 pound jars of chutney. And the pickles I bought 4 large cucumbers and a bag of onions and some peppers. I really love this recipe for making Bread and Butter Pickles . I did the whole recipe this time and I ended up with 8 one pound jars of pickles.

Later today I plan to make some redcurrant and port jelly with the juice I made yesterday from our redcurrants. I have another bush yet to ripen and those are promised to Brian for his morning muesli.

I came up with a pie recipe that needs just a bit of tweaking and it will be perfect. But here is what I made so far. First off I made a single pie crust adding in some dried oregano along with the flour for the crust. The blind baked for 10 minutes.
Next I took some lardons and fried that up with some chopped onion. And then once crisp and browned then I pan fried some potato slices along with some minced garlic in the lardon drippings. Just partial cook as they are going to finish baking in the pie.

Next I layered the potato into the base of the pie and sprinkled over the lardons. Then some grated cheddar cheese. Then on top I placed sliced tomatoes. Then in a large mixing jug, I added 4 eggs, some cream and milk along with salt, pepper, and dried herbs such as thyme and oregano; mix well. Then pour over the pie until up to the rim. Sprinkle on some freshly grated Parmesan and some more herbs.

Bake at 180 for about 45 to 50 minutes when a knife inserted comes out clean.

And while the pie is baking (being frugal here) I took some sweet corn on the cob and placed it on tin foil. Dot with butter and fresh herbs a bit of salt and pepper and just a splash of olive oil. Wrap up tight and sit on the bottom shelf of the oven. Bake for 30 minutes.

I put my pie on a baking tin just to make sure any spills are caught so I don't have to spend time cleaning the oven. Also makes it easier for transferring the pie to and from the oven.

Serve wedges of the pie along with the sweet corn and some fresh picked salad greens. :)
It came out a bit on the salty side for me so maybe instead of lardons I will use bacon or some ham next time. And parboil the potatoes rather than fry. And I will definitely be adding more oregano as I love this herb. Tarragon would also be very nice as would some fresh chopped flat leaf parsley or basil. And the cheese maybe a bit of goats cheese along with the cheddar.
Well now I am getting hungry so had better go think about lunch....... See you soon.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

My Recipe won!!!

I came up with this recipe for the contest over on the allotment website - Allotment and Vegetable Gardening - I belong to. It was a contest to come up with a recipe using Seasonal British ingredients. I actually used some ingredients from my own garden. You can use spinach in place of the chard and try using different cheeses too and you could even try different veggies for the filling also..... Great as a light lunch for two or a starter for 4. It is a really versatile type of recipe that you can adjust according to what you have on hand.

Chard and Asparagus Roulade.
The Roulade part:
3 to 4 eggs, separated
1 clove of garlic
a small nob of butter
1 small onion chopped fine/or use some spring onion
A good size handful of chard or use spinach
Salt and pepper to taste and any fresh or dried herbs of choice. I used 1/2 tsp oregano
1 tablespoon plain flour
80 grams of Strong cheddar. You can use different cheeses if you like.

For the Filling:
Fresh Asparagus/ or vegetables of choice
1 tub of garlic and herb Cream cheese
Optional Sun dried tomatoes chopped.

To serve:
Fresh cut and come again lettuces and other salad ingredients of choice.
Some spring onion chopped or chives for garnish.

Preheat oven to 180C fan oven or 190 C normal oven. Everyone's oven varies.
For the Roulade:

Take and line a Swiss roll pan with baking parchment or greaseproof paper. Brush well with butter. I used some from the frying pan that I intend on using for the veggies. Next saute the chopped onion, chopped chard stems and garlic for about 2 minutes just until they become translucent. Then add the chopped chard leaves. Herbs and seasonings.

In a large bowl beat the egg whites till stiff.

In another bowl mix the egg yolks and cheese and the sauteed vegetables and 1 tablespoon flour.

Fold in the egg whites.

Spread into pan and bake for 15 minutes or until firm and golden. Roll up and let sit for a minute.

Then while still warm loosen the paper from the Roulade.

For the filling: Saute the asparagus spears in a bit of butter and add the juice of 1/2 the lemon. Cooking until the spears are just tender and the juice has evaporated.

To the cream cheese add the remaining juice from the other 1/2 lemon and some of the lemon zest. Mix well and then spread on the roulade base.

You can sprinkle some chopped sun dried tomatoes (the ones packed in oil) over this next place on the asparagus spears.

Then roll up with the spears in the middle. I wrapped the roulade back in the greaseproof paper and placed it in the fridge to chill.
Serve slices on the salad leaves.

You can garnish with chopped spring onions or chives and some lemon slices. I do two slices per person for a starter and 1/2 roll per person as a light lunch.

This recipe is a very versatile one in that you can use different vegetables according to what you have on hand or from the garden. Enjoy with a nice glass of white wine.

And what did I win????

Another cookbook!! (hee hee) to add to my huge collection. Actually it is a very nice one that I hadn't seen before. And look forward to trying some of the recipes from it..