Well, I had visions of halcyon days, spent in meadows with picnics and joyful children, but somehow that didn't quite occur! Ah well, we had a good time anyway. Unfortunately, my beach hut was broken into and we haven't had access for all of August - boo hoo! But we managed to make it to the French Alps, and to Devon and a week in Poole, so we did pretty well.
Hope your holls were sunny and relaxing - I am spending the first day for 9 weeks alone - blissful!
My veggie patch is overflowing, especially with cabbage which I have never grown before and didn't really know when I should pick. So now it stands about 3 feet tall! I dug out a lovely book called, The Enchanted Broccoli Forest by Mollie Katzen and found what turned out to be a delicious Cabbage Soup recipe - perfect for gluts of cabbage from the allotment. Cabbage is a superfood - helps to combat cancer and all sorts of ailments from engorged breasts to prostate problems and contains the vitamins A, C, D and E in large quantities AND it is an amazing immune system booster. We all need to eat more of this very underrated veg!
And I managed to make my annual batch of Tomato Ketchup - which I LOVE! It is a labour of love and rather time consuming, but only because you have to boil it for about 4 hours. If you fancy an afternoon of slow cooking, this is your baby!
It is the North Holmwood Village Day on Saturday, and my usual contribution is to make a large batch of scones for the cream teas. I use a recipe by Paul Hollywood, master baker and all round good egg! Check out his book, '100 Great Breads' - another delightful way to spend a couple of hours in the kitchen. If you've never made bread, now is the time to start! It is very theraputic and I guarantee you'll be successful and SO proud of yourself! I run bread-making courses so get in contact if you're interested.
And finally, I am obsessed with foraging in the forest for food, so you can imagine my delight when I found out that my friend, Mel, has a fungus fetish! I have always wanted to find out what fungi is good or bad to eat, and he gave me a Penny Bun or Cep. I made the most lovely omlette with my mushroom and I am now hooked on looking for more!
Here are the recipes.
Cream of Cabbage Soup (serves 3-4)
1 leek, chopped and washed
1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped
1 knob of butter
8 largish cabbage leaves, thoroughly washed and shredded
2 medium potatoes, cubed
750ml of vegetable stock
large pinch of sea salt
A good grinding of fresh pepper
1 tsp caraway seeds
4 tbs creme fraiche
Heat a large saucepan, and fry the leek and garlic in the butter until soft (about 5 minutes). Add the shredded cabbage, potatoes, stock, seasoning and caraway seeds and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer for about 15 minutes. Puree in a blender and return to the saucepan. Stir in the creme fraiche, check the seasoning and serve.
5kg ripe tomatoes
600ml white vinegar
1 tbs salt
1tsp each ground ginger, cloves, nutmeg, paprika and cayenne
Cut the tomatoes into quarters and cook gently in a very large pan until softened (about 20-30 minutes)
Sieve the pulp and pour the puree into the pan. Simmer this with all the other ingredients until thickened, about 4 hours (it will thicken in the jars) and pour into hot jars that you have sterilized before hand (see below). Put the lids on loosely and place in the oven for about 30 minutes at 170 C to sterilize the ketchup. Remove from the oven and do the lids up tightly.
To sterilize the bottles without using nasty chemicals, place them all on a baking tray in the oven set at about 120 C for about 30 minutes. They will be hot and ready for you to pour in the ketchup.
Huge Scones (a la Paul Hollywood)
500g strong white flour
75g caster sugar
30g baking powder
75g softened butter
Place the flour, baking powder and butter into a food processor and pulse until 'breadcrumbed' (or rub in by hand). Be very gentle and don't over mix. Stir in the sugar, then add the eggs and milk and stir to combine. Work the dough as little as possible. Press out gently to about 4 cm deep and use a 5cm cutter to cut rounds. Place these on a floured baking tray, leaving a little space between them. Sprinkle with a little flour. Bake in an oven set at 200 C for about 10-12 minutes, until risen and golden.
Serve with jam and cream (or is that cream and jam?)
My Mushroom Omlette (serves one)
1 penny bun (or a handful of mushrooms)
1 tsp butter
2 eggs, beaten
Heat a small frying-pan and add the butter and mushrooms. Cook until golden. Turn the heat down and pour the eggs all around the pan. Move the egg around so the mushrooms lift off the bottom and more egg is exposed to the hot pan below. Cook as long as you like it. I don't like runny egg, but the egg cooks a little more when you fold it over. Slide on to a plate and devour with relish!