Saturday, 26 April 2014

Winchester - Morestead - Cheesefoot Head - Twyford -Winchester & Cheriton's green lanes.

A nice couple of days spent back in Hampshire over the easter holidays walking in some of my favorite areas.
The first walk was with a walking group I have joined and started in Winchester from Bar End near to St. Catherine's Hill.
We followed a footpath that ran parallel to the old roman road to Morestead, crossing the road at Morstead Down and joining Fawley Lane before walking up and over Fawley Down to Cheesefoot Head. This is a great place to see Skylarks and there is a very healthy population on this part of the downs. I also saw my first Swallow of the year as we were passing over Morestead Down.
View from Cheesefoot Head looking south west.
From Cheesfoot Head we descended Warren Lane before turning right into Honeyman Lane. The banks of these old drovers lanes were covered with wild garlic, just coming into flower, a few handfuls went into my pockets.
We crossed the road at Bottom Pond Farm and continued along Stags Lane before joining up with the Monarch's Way and Love Lane which led us into Twyford. This partof the walk was covered in an earlier walk on this blog.
After a very welcome lunch break in the Pheonix Inn, Twyford we followed the river Itchen back into Winchester, taking a slight detour after passing under the M3 to walk along the now restored viaduct at the Hockley Link.
We then followed the Itchen Way back into Wichester, passing the foot of St. Catherines Hill, an ancient hill fort where we were treated to one of the best displays of Cowslips I have ever seen.

The following monday I explored the old droves and green lanes around Cheriton - these are a net work of tracks to the east of the village, which is also where the source of the River Itchen is situated.

Alresford Lane
We strated on Alresfrod Lane before crossing to Broad Lane via a footpath.
When Broad Lane merged with Hinton Lane we headed back south before turning into Cheriton Lane which led us back past the Long Barrow to our starting point.

Hinton Lane
There are lots of these old droves cris-crossing Cheriton and the surrounding area and they make for very good walks avoiding most roads.

Cheriton Lane

Friday, 11 April 2014

Balsamic Roasted Strawberries.

A delicious and simple way to serve strawberries!
Hull your strawberries and sprinkle with a dessert spoon of sugar.
Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees.
Melt a knob of unsalted butter in a non stick pan and add the strawberries.
Cook for a few minutes making sure all the strawbs are coated with butter, add a good dash of quality balsamic vinegar and transfer to the oven.
Cook for five to ten minutes depending on the size and ripeness of the strawbs.
Remove from the oven and let cool, basting with the cooking juices every so often.
Reserve the best half of the strawbs and place the rest in a blender with the cooking juices and a good dash of lemon juice.
Blitz to a puree and taste. Add more balsamic and sugar if needed and blitz again.
Serve with whipped or clotted cream.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Pigs Cheeks with Perry and Mustard.

I was delighted to find pigs cheeks in my local supermarket and as I had not cooked them before looked up a couple of recipes for them.
This was the second time I cooked them after a trial run and they are delicious, but need a long slow cook at a low temperature to tenderize them.
Perry is a drink similar to cider, but made from pears. Cider works just as well too.
Season the cheeks with salt and paper rub in a little oil and some lemon juice and leave to marinade overnight.
Add a knob of butter to a frying pan and colour the cheeks on both sides.
Transfer to an oven proof dish with a lid.
In the same pan soften a chopped onion with some chopped thyme, deglaze with enough perry to nearly cover the cheeks and add a good dollop of english mustard and a squeeze of tomato puree.
Cover the cheeks with the onions and sauce and transfer to a low oven (100-120 degrees) and cook for at least an hour - longer on a lower heat is better.
Serve with mash and seasonal veg.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Chicken Provencal.

I used chicken thighs for this but you can use breast or drumsticks or even buy a whole chicken and joint it.
First cut the aubergine in to cubes, place into a colander salt and place a small plate and weight on top. Leave for at least a few hours preferably longer until most of the water has been drawn out.
Wash the salt off and quickly dry with a clean tea towel.
Season the thighs and colour in a pan with some olive oil and transfer to an oven proof casserole or similar.
In the same pan soften a chopped onion, a diced courgette or two, de-seeded and chopped tomatoes the aubergine and a chopped pepper.
Add a bay leaf or two and chopped parsley or basil, cover with a good glug of oilive oil and a generous squeeze of tomato puree.
Cover the chicken pieces with the vegatables, cover and place in a low oven for 50 mins to an hour or until the chicken is cooked through.