Blackcurrant Fro-Yo

So you’ve got blackcurrants in the freezer, you’ve made blackcurrant jam (yum) and you have started to make cassis,  but there are still blackcurrants on the bushes in the garden only now they are beginning to fall off because it’s late in the season and there has been loads of rain!  HELP!


Well that’s my story anyway and that’s why I made this fro-yo inspired pud  You need an icecream maker and a blender or food processor but the payoff if it’s a ONE (everything blitzed in blender) TWO (chuck in icecream maker to churn) THREE (transfer to freezer) type of recipe.  I was going to say “easy pleased, lemon squeezy” but no lemons are involved.

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Quick Homemade Lemonade

As the temperatures rise you really can’t beat a jug of cold, homemade lemonade in the garden.  As children one of our greatest treats on hot summer days was to be allowed to sit on the swing seat with its shady canopy, and drink this cold lemonade.  Nowadays I always picture southern belles (???) in elegant long white summer dresses on a veranda offering their guests a glass of this from a jug that is frosted cold and has slices of lemon and ice cubes in it.   I can almost hear the ice chinking as it is being poured.   Delicious.  Refreshing.
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Rose Geranium Leaf Panna Cotta

The secret of a good panna cotta is to use as little gelatine as possible so that it has that lovely, voluptuous wobble and is lovely and silky to eat.   I’ve flavoured panna cotta with many things over the years from vanilla to fig leaf.  I’ve used lemon balm, lemon verbena, black currant leaves and actually tarragon or fennel are surprisingly good too.  Not that keen on lavender in a creamy dessert but it goes very well in shortbread if you want to serve that alongside – though make sure you don’t add too much if you want to avoid a soapy taste. For the shortbread recipe go to Traybake Shortbread and Variations for further details. Continue reading

Asparagus, Pea and Herb Risotto

Risotto is a really adaptable dish that you can make with whatever you have to hand.   In my case this meant asparagus, a few frozen peas  and left over chicken from this weeks roast.  What really makes a risotto though is the stock you use to flavour the rice and the herbs at the end to bring out the flavours.  You can, of course, use butter and parmesan at the end to add richness, but I chose not to wanting this risotto to be clean tasting and for the parsley and tarragon that I added at the end to shine and enhance the asparagus.  In fact this whole dish is layered through with herbs and that is what I wanted to highlight.  I like the texture of my risotto to be soup-y but if you prefer a more solid texture then just add less liquid. Continue reading

Asparagus Tart

This recipe is a bit of a cheat. It uses 6 ingredients – if you don’t count salt and pepper – is incredibly easy and I think looks quite impressive.   Also, from my point of view, it uses, and showcases, asparagus and when you’ve got a glut of it growing in the garden you need ideas as to how to use it!  Do be warned a big fat bunch of asparagus recipes will be coming your way.  You can scale this up or down quite easily.  Just bake more or less.  I like it in two person sized tarts aesthetically, and so that’s the recipe I’ve given here,  but it’s up to you. Continue reading

Parmesan and Herb Shortbread Nibbles

Every so often it is good to look at a loved recipe with new eyes and adapt it to suit you.   I had been looking at a clump of lovage that was growing happily away in my garden and wondering what I could do with it.   You may feel the same about those chives, parsley, dill, fennel etc you have in your fridge or growing in your garden.  All would work in this recipe.

I decided to try lovage in these light, cheesy, herby, buttery little biscuits that are ever so moor-ish and perfect with a glass of wine or whatever before you eat your meal.   I often serve them with radishes dipped in butter and salt and marinated olives (the list is endless) and don’t bother with a starter, but the truth is I could eat them at anytime and, because you keep the dough rolled and in the fridge ready for slicing and baking, I often do! 
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Rhubarb and Almond Galette

This recipe uses a bought in, ready rolled, puff pastry as its base.  On top of that is an almondy frangipane and this is piled with glorious, red rhubarb glistening with apricot jam and guilded with toasted almond flakes.  It tastes wonderful, particularly warm with ice-cream or cream, but it tastes equally as delicious the next day,  straight from the fridge in slices and eaten as you would a danish with a cup of coffee or tea.  It’s not a recipe that is complicated to make, nor does it need lots of difficult ingredients.   If you have rhubarb in your (or a friends garden) it’s a wonderful way to use it as is the Rhubarb and Raspberry Crumble with Oats and Hazelnuts or, the real favourites in this household, the Rhubarb Gin and Rhubarb And Redcurrant Jam  We have both of these recipes on the go at the moment – we have one for breakfast and one in the evening.   I will leave you to guess which one is for when!

Chopped Rhubarb

Rhubarb, ready for the galette, chopped into 5cm/2” pieces, then halved.

You can make this vegan by buying the green packeted puff pastry which isn’t made with butter, and making the frangipane with a vegan butter and aquafaba and that works beautifully.  As Chloe isn’t staying with us at the moment I’ve gone all out with the all butter version here but don’t let that put you off if you are non dairy as those two substitutions make it so easy to adapt.
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Sourdough

With COVID-19 still imposing restrictions on movement, many people have had the time to try new things.   Sourdough seems to be having a moment with lots of you making (or getting hold of) a starter.  As someone who has been making sourdough for more years than I care to remember,  I have been asked by a few people just how to keep a starter going once past the initial week of growing it.

Despite the rumours, sourdough is not difficult.   When you are used to it it fits around you.   It is a different process from other bread and I think that is why people are a bit confused. Continue reading

Vegan Winter Vegetable Lasagne

Spring either started on the 1st March or won’t begin until the 20th!  It all depends on whether you prefer the astronomical or meteorological way of looking at things.  The whites of the snowdrops are definitely giving way to the cheerful yellows of the daffodils and the paler primroses.   The birds are starting to sing in the mornings and look sleek again rather than looking dishevelled having puffed their feathers out in the bird equivalent of a quilted coat two sizes too big.  The hens are starting to lay again and the first few buds are starting to unfurl on our apricot trees.  Just as I get hopeful that winter is over we get hit my a hard frost and howling winds.

On my veg patch, just as I have begun sowing in earnest ready for the new season, there is very little left to harvest.  A few leeks and carrots, stored onions, some spinach and kale and maybe the odd cauliflower.  More excitingly the bright pink rhubarb is showing underneath the upturned bin,  and the sprouting broccoli, both white and purple,  is having its moment.  I can think of recipes galore for the rhubarb and broccoli but for the leeks, carrots and onions not so many!

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