If you manage to grow good fennel…
I’ve only recently discovered how to grow fennel without it bolting while it is still small. The answer (for me) is to keep the carrot fly away from the plants by covering them with fine mesh netting.
I’ve tried several recipes for fennel, and my current favorite comes from our ancient copy of Jane Grigson’s Vegetable Book. It is very simple, and simply delicious.
- Some heads of fennel
- Black pepper
- Parmesan cheese
Quarter the heads of fennel and boil them in salted water until they are just tender – neither crisp nor mushy. Drain them and lay in a generously buttered oven dish. Grate Parmesan over them along with plenty of black pepper. Bake them at 200deg C until they are bubbling in buttery juice and the Parmesan is golden.
Two simple “Greek” recipes
Occasionally I manage to grow some good cauliflowers, and when I do I appreciate these two simple recipes. I call both of them “cauliflower a la Grecque” – my versions of French versions of real Greek cooking. They do actually taste very good even though they may not be strictly authentic.
Part of the trick of cooking cauliflower is to catch them just as they soften, but before they go mushy. Your nose can help here. You get to recognize the the change of smell when they are done.
- A cauliflower, broken into florets
- Olive oil: two measures
- Lemon juice: one measure
Prepare a dressing in a bowl by whisking together the olive oil and lemon juice – just enough for the amount of cauli you have. Steam the cauliflower in a covered pan with just a bit of water until it softens, and drain it. Add the florets to the bowl and gently mix with the dressing. Serve either warm or cold.
Cauliflower in Tomato Sauce
- A cauliflower, broken into florets
- Tomato sauce
I like to make enough tomato sauce to have some left over for dishes like this. Tomato sauce made with onions, garlic and oregano works well, but other sorts are good too. Just add the florets to a pan with enough sauce to cover them when you mix them together. You may need to water the sauce down a bit to stop it sticking and burning. Cover the pan and steam until the cauliflower is just done. Serve hot.
Delicious way to use up courgettes!
Jenny Ward brought this amazing Persian dish to one of our autumn shows, where it was quickly polished off. Not only is it delicious, but it also uses up lots of courgettes – just the sort of recipe we need!
- 500g of courgettes – in 5mm slices
- 6 eggs
- 100ml milk
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- Handful of dill and parsley, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, grated
- Spice mixture:
- 1/4 tsp ground cumin
- 1/4 tsp ground coriander
- 1/4 tsp turmeric
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 4 tbsp olive oil
Fry the onions in 2tbsp olive oil until soft. Remove from the pan. Then fry the courgettes in batches until coloured and remove from the pan. Add more oil if needed. Whisk the eggs and milk in a bowl, then add the rest of the ingredients. Pour the mixture into the pan, and cook on a low light. Finish off under the grill to brown the top.
Delicious and very simple.
We discovered this way of doing broad beans so long ago that we can’t find the original recipe. I think it is a Greek. Anyway it is delicious and very simple if your broad beans are still young and tender.
- Broad beans
- Lemon juice
- Olive oil
If your broad beans are still young enough, just steam them in a bit of water until tender – only a couple of minutes – and drain them. Make a bit of dressing of olive oil and lemon juice in a serving bowl and tip in the broad beans and stir them in. If the skin of your broad beans has started to get tough you may want to go to the trouble of skinning them.
Serve them cool or still warm, as you prefer.
Utterly delicious – worth keeping a small bed of sorrel somewhere.
I think Sally got this recipe from The Greens Cook Book. It is utterly delicious.
We keep a small bed of sorrel protected from the birds on our plot which keeps us going most of the spring and summer.
- Tart dough for a 9 inch tart
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1 large red onion, thinly sliced
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 to 8 0z sorrel leaves
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup double cream
- 2 oz Gruyere cheese, grated
Prepare the tart dough and partially pre-bake.
Melt the butter in a pan, add the onion and salt. Cover the pan and stew for about 10 minutes until the onion is soft, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile cut the stems off the sorrel leaves and roughly slice the leaves. Add them to the cooked onion and cook until the sorrel has turned a grey-green colour (about 3-4 minutes). Whisk the eggs with the cream and then stir in the onion, sorrel and half the cheese. Taste for salt and season with pepper.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Spread the rest of the cheese on the bottom of the flan case, then spread the filling on top. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until set and well coloured. Serve hot.
Makes one 9 inch tart
An Indian recipe for spinach, this works with cabbage or kale, too.
I learned this wonderful way of cooking spinach so long ago I almost forgot where it came from. I think it was a Sikh friend who showed it to me, but it doesn’t just go with Indian cooking – and it works with other greens besides spinach. I like it with cabbage, and even kale sometimes. This should be enough for two people who really like their greens.
- 200 g or 300 g spinach
- knob of ghee or else cooking oil and a knob of butter
- about 2cm of fresh ginger root, grated
- clove of garlic, pressed or chopped fine.
Wash the spinach well and drain. Heat the ghee (or oil and butter) with the garlic and ginger in a pan until it starts to sizzle. Then throw in the spinach, still wet, and cover the pan. Cook gently, stirring occasionally, until the spinach is soft and smells delicious. With other greens you may need to add just a bit of water to stop it burning.
Made right, gooseberry fool is sublime!
A traditional English recipe made with fresh gooseberries and cream, gooseberry fool can be just sublime. This makes four smallish portions, but it is so intense you don’t really need much.
- 200 ml fresh cream, either double or a mix of double/single, whipped.
- 200 g young gooseberries
- sugar to taste
- 50 g butter
Stew the gooseberries and butter in a covered pan until they are just cooked – not too mushy. Smash them with a fork, sweeten with sugar to taste, and stir gently into the whipped cream. Spoon into small bowls or glasses and cool it in the fridge before serving.
From Sally Foster, inspired by our ancient copy of Jane Grigson’s Good Things.
“This recipe is so good, I have to share it.”
I know you will think I am obsessed with rhubarb (I am!), but this recipe is so good, I have to share it. It’s really easy and so nice…
A good way to make use of your rhubarb (don’t forget you can donate some rhubarb to the Hedge Veg box for our neighbours if you have some spare, too).
Serves 6 to 8
- 600g rhubarb, trimmed
- 125 g golden caster sugar
- 200g golden caster sugar
- 225g softened butter
- 200g SR flour
- 25g cocoa
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 4 medium eggs
- 100ml milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 50g dark chocolate, cut into chips
- Oven 200oC/ 180oC fan/ gas 6
- Cut rhubarb into 2cm chunks and mix with 125g sugar in an ovenproof dish (large).
- For the sponge, reserve 2 level tbsps sugar, then place all other ingredients EXCEPT choc chips, in food Processor and cream together. Add the chocolate chips afterwards and stir together.
- Smooth the sponge mixture over the rhubarb, scatter the reserved sugar over the top.
- Bake for 50 mins or until skewer comes out clean.
- Eat hot, or even better, warm. Recipe recommends custard, I had some cream.
There is more to it than pie and crumble.
Starting in April, or earlier, we pick lots of rhubarb until June on our plots. Here are some recipes and recommendations from members for surprising ways of using it.
Sweet cicely is an attractive perennial herb with an aniseed scent, easy to grow. It combines especially well with rhubarb:
Pick them young, before the choke develops and try this.
Globe artichokes are coming on nicely at the moment (mid May). Instead of waiting for them to get enormous, this is how I’ve been cooking them:
Pick them young and tender.
Cut of the top third, and take of several layers of ‘leaves’.
Cut them in two. There is no choke at this stage.
Boil in wine/water+lemon juice or vinegar for about 10 minutes. Dress them with vinegar or whatever.
From Rosie Hall