I would like to apologies yet again, i’ve been so busy foraging & picking that I’ve not written about all the thoughts, times and moments I have witnessed this past spring & summer months.
Mainly due to the fact that I have just lost myself in the moment where the beauty can’t leave the eyes, and no words or photographs could never really capture the artistry unfolding around me.
So I can recommend that you stop and let the moment fill the eyes, let them absorb the world’s natural beauty. Then your understand, the reason I got lost when the spring turned into shades of new summer green and the fresh the new summer sun wrapped around me like a friendly arm, I simply just got lost in its beauty,letting myself observe and drink in the first sights of elderflowers trees with its delicate white flowers that pack a punch with its heady aroma. Then suddenly the first prickly gooseberries shouted out, reminding me of younger days picking them with my mum and one day inparticular when it was cold and each fruit seemed to attack me with a small nasty thorn. How I complained , and how I would do anything to be back in my garden with my mom.
It always surprises me just how things grow it’s so overwhelming, the redcurrants have given up their bounty and how the black and white currants have followed suit.
The harvest is in full swing and I have to be honest I don’t always make jam with the fruit I just eat them.
Then there’s the bee project and how they made me danced in the field while I watched the swarm, its exciting. Did I mention the new flavour combinations?
I have mostly been lost in new berries and new flavours. Each morning I have been getting up with the larks, relishing in just how wonderful the dawn chorus is. Did you know here in Barton -on -Sea they wake me up at times as early as 3:45am but on average its between 3:59 am and 4:09 am every morning and boy what a wonderful sound. I have started to recognise the birds themselves!
Did I mention the cherries? what a year for cherries, I almost crashed the car yesterday looking at the cherries in the hedgerows and then the plums they are early and it’s all coming at once, my poor pans are worked to death , they can’t stop and the kitchen is getting overcrowded with ideas about new jam recipes, jam related recipes and well jam.
So apologies I’ve just been capturing the moment and living the dream. Being inspired by nature. inspired by the growers and even the TV!! Especially one particular chap whose inspiration to date fills my every day, that is of course Nigel Slater, and his current TV programme Eating Together ( a family who eats together stays together!) has just exploded onto my plate and has really got to me and wow just wow, what an amazing chef, cook, person, he truly is very remarkable (Yes for all those who know me, I can now achieve turning on a TV set without the help of my children!)
So where have I been? breathing the air, laying under my window at night watching the stars appear in the night sky. Starting out as a turquoise blue deeping as the night moves into morning a colour only the summer sky can bring. Sometimes just watching the clouds filling the blue sky leaving no room for words. But mostly i’ve been climbing trees, I can recommend it! So if you can and you get a chance climb a tree and see my world, it is rather magical. (BE CAREFUL)
see you soon.
Learning all about Jam!
It’s getting busy as some of you know! I am currently in recipe development mode, which takes, time patience and lots of sampling! but whilst I have my head in a pan doesn’t mean I am not doing other things. I am as it happens doing a few events.
June is the launch of Hampshire food festival. For which I am running a number of master classes almost all of them are fully booked. However I am running a few other courses in September at the Chewton Glen Hotel and Lainston House. The demand for these course have surprised me somewhat so we have added a few dates click on the link below and book while there are still places.
Spring is well and truly underway, a magical time when new life gives new hopes, new dreams, new realities. All my wishes suddenly turning into reality. I’ve been gardening as much as humanly possible and sowing, sowing, sowing. Its almost turned into a race, and very soon the foraging for me will be full on. I have started and so far I am foraging wild garlic, pine needles, gorse flowers.
Whilst busying myself I get distracted by how beautiful the landscape is around me. I feel that Mother nature herself has announced the Spring Ball.
Birds have obliged and have created the perfect chorus. Whilst the Sun has taken on a new morning glow replacing the dark morning with a new soft flattering light.
Let the dance begin. If you stop and look your see it, its everywhere in woodlands, driveways roadsides every tree, every plant is in attendance.
Trees and hedgerows wearing dresses as pretty as a picture in bright coloured blossoms, pink, stunning reds and whiter than white petals, hang from branches as if they have been pinned on overnight.
O then I remember the purpose of my walk gorse flowers, a beautiful yellow flower, that seems to glow in the new seasons sunshine, I have a new idea for these this year, something special, I let you know as soon as Ive managed to perfect this little treat. Talking of special if you haven’t heard then I would like to introduce you to Rupert who uses corse flowers to make Gin with. He can be found here www.conkerspirit.co.uk and I can recommend that you try some of his Gin.
Now earlier on I was talking rhubarb, yes I am obsessed with rhubarb can’t help it. Its wonderful you can do some much with it. The tiny shoots appearing earlier on have now grown and some are ready for the pot. So what will I be making Rhubarb jam rhubarb ketchup, (great with Pork).
I love it so much that I have a whole plot dedicated to growing it.! I am also very lucky to have Darren Venables and his wonderful team, at the http://www.chewtonglen.com/ who grow some fantastic varieties for me to turn into jam for the hotel. They also use it in the kitchens were the talented Executive chef Luke Mathews and his team turn into rhubarb pavlova.
However this week I am trying to be good after all the chocolate eaten up from the generous easter bunny. So I am going to try and do something a little savory. Rhubarb ketchup. There are many recipes for this little delight but one of the best I have found is Richard Turners recipe.
550g of forced pink steam rhubarb
150g of sugar
100ml of cider
50ml of orange juice
sea salt and spices. 2cm Root ginger, ½ cinnamon stick 2 cloves, 8 black peppercorns (all in a spice bag)
Place all the above ingredients into a stainless steel pan. Boil then simmer for 20 minutes
Remove the spice bag and blend the sauce into a puree. Pass through a sieve and refrigerate until needed.
I like it poured over ice cream or whipped into mergans. I also like to use it in GIn!
Richard serves his with a tasty outstanding dish of his slow-roast leg of pork. I tried this recipe and its mouth watering delicious.
Check out his new book.Hog its piggy brilliant.
Spring has gently opened her doors and has let in the warmth of a new season’s breeze. It brushes my face with a softness of rose petals. With a promising brighter sun, she entices me to step outside and discover snowdrops and early daffodils. A sight so familiar, yet each spring she delivers these gifts and it’s like the first time it’s ever arrived. As if it’s appeared there just for me to discover. Each flower, each blossom reflexing the open sky and the morning sun. As each ray magically lights up the emerging blossoms, of the hedgerows, teasing and requesting each and every blossom to open into full flower.
It’s at this moment I fall in love with this new season as if it is a first kiss. The ground is still cold but the expectation of new fruit starts to excite my taste buds, as I witness the first crop of rhubarb, pushing her pinks stalks out of the tops of upturned pots used to force these gorgeous delights on. I could dance it’s spring, these pink beauties once picked give me such enthusiasm for the next new season, knowing it is safely underway. I feel she is giving me a glimpse of the bounty yet to come.
Kitchen Garden at the Chewton Glen
So after the marmalade it’s rhubarb time. These pink stalks appear in the garden and my taste buds tingle. It really doesn’t feel like twelve months since I picked the first crop of the year, but it is and it’s back, my favorite rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb…a word that always makes me laugh so I say it again Rhubarb! If you would like to know about this little beauty (you can find facts about it from last year’s blog) but this year I would like to give you a little recipe that is tasty, fun, easy and full of the joys of spring!
A quick Rhubarb & Orange Jam Bread and Butter Pudding.
1 pot of Rhubarb & Orange Jam
400g of sliced bread this need to be about a day old if not two.
2 large eggs and 3 large egg yolks.
A pot of 500ml double cream
250 ml of milk
1 vanilla pod. (you only need the seeds hers so keep the pod and pop it into some sugar)
2 tbsp. of demerara sugar.
The zest of 1 large orange.
Make sandwiches with the bread & Jam and cut into triangles. and place in an ovenproof dish.
Put the milk cream, eggs into a bowl and whisk. Pour over the bread and let it sit over night.( or at least for 1 hour)
Sprinkle over the orange & Sugar and Place in a warmed oven about 180c for about 45 mins.
Serve with Mascarpone cream, or vanilla ice cream.
It’s here the marmalade season and what a wonderful time of year! It’s a t time when the Seville’s arrive. Bright skinned and bushy tailed! Here to warm up our dull days with a little bit of Spanish sunshine, it’s the perfect time to put the pan on.
At this very moment my time is being taken up with moving, so in between batches I find myself moving heavy kitchen equipment and units to a little place along the road in Hordle.
I’m so excited I could dance in my kitchen!
So a new adventure begins… to date I have taken down a wall, stripped the plasterboard away from the walls, ripped the floor up and demolished a built in cupboard.I have also taken out a large work bench and some old kitchen units. My word, its hard work being “Bob the builder”, but its been fun
I have also leveled my first floor! Oh yes me! I did it!
Serious building work is the next step to be taken … Bob help!!! Walls need to be built, plaster boards replaced etc.etc. so its time to call in the professionals, and believe me its not easy being a project manger. My mind wonders …… mm wait a minute; I was once a Stage Manager! so time to manage! As any good Stage Manager would say…. “30 minute call”
In between all of that I am still cooking “Seville’s” from Ava Maria Farm, https://twitter.com/farmavemaria these beauties arriving for a very short time over this dull British winter. Thank goodness its time to stop playing “Bob” and start playing “Paddington”.
Ava Maria Farm
Many marmalade makers the world over take this very seriously, and armed with special “recipe rituals” passed down from generation to generation with the secrets kept locked inside a generation of cooks and marmalade jars, take to the pan with wooden spoon in hand, aim to make a better marmalade than they have every made year in year out they set themselves goals! .This unique marmalade passion has created a wonderful world of “marmalade culture”. So if you have not made marmalade before…. be careful as once you have made a jar…your be addicted! and soon you will be joining, entering and competing at the Marmalade Festival which is held each year in Cumbria at Dalemain House. Where everyone is welcome. http://www.dalemainmarmaladeawards.co.uk
Now my favorite recipes change, depending on the fruit. But I always rely on my Moms recipe it is almost always right but to be honest its not that different to Nigel Slaters, which won me a Silver at the said marmalade awards! Although I’m not one for believing in magic, BUT!!!! if you have never made marmalade or even if you have and you would like to try some marmalade magic! then this is little find is for you .READ the The kitchen diaries II, page 50 something I always read before I start with the marmalade cooking. I would even go so far as to say… don’t make marmalade without reading it first, its contains magic and every jar will set.
Nigel’s words are like fragments of a day I once had with my Mom, it brings back marmalade memories of her, her kitchen and how much she loved the garden. My next batch is for you Mom… and yes, I will sing “bring me sunshine” even if it is blowing a wild one as it is today. ( and I promise to save my sister a jar or two, although no jar will ever be as good as yours X).