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Saturday, 31 August 2013

Blackberry Whisky.


Do not use a single malt or even a good quality blended whisky for this - it is a waste of good whisky - the cheaper brands that you probably would not usualy buy are perfect for it.
First you have to make room in the whisky bottle for the blackberries so this is best made in the evening!
After you have had your drink add blackberries to the whisky and add sugar to taste.
The amount of blackberries and sugar is entirely personal - I usually use about two dozen black berries and a couple of teaspoons of sugar, but if you like a sweeter drink add more sugar or indeed do not use any.
Give the bottle a shake to disolve the sugar and place on a shelf in a store cuboard or pantry (in the dark). shake every day for the first few days.
Then turn the bottle every week or so and after a month or two strain and discard the blackberries.
It is now ready too drink, but the flavour improves with age.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Purslane, Tomato and Cucumber Salad.

Purslane is a very easy plant to grow and has a wonderful flavour.
I didn't sew any at all this year, but still had it popping up in lots of other pots with tomatoes, lettuce etc
It is the type of plant you only have to really sew once and just let it go to seed. It will then pop up the following years where ever it is happy.
It can also be used in soups and stews.

Pick the purslane leaves from the stalks - wash and dry.
Half your cucumber cut out the seeds and discard slice.
Place the purslane and cucumber in a bowl and dress with extra virgin oilive oil, lemon juice and season.
Add chopped tomotoes and a little chopped parsley and serve.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Burger and Chips.

Place your minced beef in a bowl and season well with salt and pepper.
Add a large dollop of english mustard and also of horseraddish sauce or a grated fresh horseraddish.
Mix well and shape into patties. Leave in the fridge to cool and firm up.
For the oven chips peel and half a large potato.
Par boil in salted water for about 10 mins and leave to cool.
Cut into large chip wedges and roll in a little oil, season and add a little finely chopped chilli.
Cook in the oven tossing regularly at 180 - 200 degrees until coloured.
Cook the burgers in a frying pan and serve in a good quality bun - cheese optional!

Ratatouille.

I do two versions of this that are made at the same time.
The first is a conventional one and the other is made with all the veg very finely chopped and a lot less olive oil, which is served cold like a tapenade.

Slice your aubergines and place in a colader and sprinkle with salt on both sides. place a saucer on top and weight down with a large tin. leave in the fridge or somewhere cool and covered for a few hours.
The salt draws all the water out of the aubergines. If you do not do this your ratatouille will be very very watery and thin.
Give the aubergine slices a squeeze and wash off all the salt drying imediately so none of the water is absorbed back into the aubergine. It is very important you wash all the salt off otherwise you will end up with a very salty stew!
Chop into chuncks and place in a large saucepan with a cup of good quality olive oil (NOT extra virgin).
Put on a very low heat. the idea is to very slowly stew the veg in the oil preventing in from falling apart and turning into a mush.
Add chopped onion, courgette and herbs - I usually use basil and / or parsley as both work well.
Add a good grind of pepper, but at this stage no salt (its best to season with salt after it has cooked on and been tasted as you can never tell how much salt was left on the aubergines).
After cooking through these vegatable add chopped red pepper and cook through.
Taste and add salt if needed.
Serve with rice, boiled potatoes or pasta.

This is a dish that is better the following day - I usually let it cool off the heat a few times while cooking as the stop / start seems to improve the flavour and stops the vegatables disitergrating into mush.

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Apple and Celery Coleslaw.


An accompaniment to barbecue sausages, but would work well with pork, chicken etc.
Finley slice a small onion and place in a bowl. Cover with lemon juice and leave to soke.
Grate a carrot and place on top.
Chop a stick of celery and add to the bowl.
Chop an apple into matchsticks and roll in lemon juice to stop it discolouring and add to the bowl.
Add a generous dollop of mayonaise and some oil.
Season with salt and pepper and combine.

Friday, 2 August 2013

Broad Beans with Bacon, Parsley and Chervil.

this is a great starter, tapas or side dish.
Pod the beans and put in a steamer.
While the broad beans are steaming slice a rasher of bacon  and fry until crispy.
Take off the heat and drain off any exccess fat. Add the steamed beans and chopped herbs. Dress with a little oil and some good quality vinegar and serve.

I usually use mint in this recipe, but thought I would give parsley and chervil a try - I think the mint works slightly better (see older post).

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Linguine with Herbs and Black Olives.

A very simple lunch from a quick walk around the garden collecting herbs.
I used marjoram, basil, sorrel, fennel, mint, thyme, rocket, rosemary, savory and tarragon, but any combinations of what is to hand works well.
With the stronger flavoured herbs such as tarragon and mint i use a little less so as not to over power the others and the tender softer tops of herbs like rosemary and thyme.
While your linguine is cooking finely chop a small onion and soften in a good glug of olive oil.
Add half a small finely chopped chilli and some chopped black olives.
As they are cooking spoon in some water from the cooking pasta and stir in.
Finally add the chopped herbs a minute before the pasta is ready.
Drain the linguine stir in the herb sauce and sprinkle with parmesan and serve.

The Big Butterfly Count.


A very important study of one of our best loved insects and all it takes is 15 minutes of your time between now and Sunday the 11th August.
Please take part.
http://www.bigbutterflycount.org/