Sunday, 10 April 2016

Grow your own Salad - Wasabi Rocket

Last year, I was introduced to a new variety of rocket at the Thompson and Morgan show garden - the Wasabi Rocket.

What about the flavour?
Similar to a traditional rocket with a hot peppery flavour, it also has the distinctive flavour of wasabi root. Essentially, it is like having wasabi in a salad leaf form.

How to grow?
You can buy Wild Rocket seeds from Thompson & Morgan here at the trial price of £0.99 (for 500 seeds).

Seeds can be sown from April to September outdoors.

When growing rocket, my personal preference is to harvest the baby salad leaves as a 'cut-and-come-again' crop. Simply sow seeds thinly into a seed tray at a depth of 1cm, and pick the leaves as your heart desires.  

Water regularly to prevent bolting (when the plants flower prematurely and run to seed). Flea beetles can sometimes be a problem at the height of summer, drilling endless tiny holes into rocket leaves.

Seeds available from : Thompson & Morgan
As at April 2016, you can buy a trial packet of 500 seeds for £0.99

Saturday, 9 April 2016

Wild garlic and pork dumplings

A recipe for wild garlic ..

Wild garlic grows in abundance in spring. We are lucky enough to have masses of wild garlic growing in woodland close to us, so we can return year after year to forage for this wonderful herb. To me, they are similar to Chinese garlic chives, just with larger leaves.

In this recipe, wild garlic is combined with minced pork to make tasty chinese dumplings. The mince needs quite a bit of seasoning. I always make a few to begin with, cook them and then do a taste test. You may find you need to tweak the seasoning to get it to your taste.

Always wash wild garlic well before using. If you can't get hold of wild garlic, use Garlic Chives.

Place some filling into each wrapper.  Dip your finger into a small bowl of water and run it along the edge of the wrapper.

Now, fold the wrapper in half and press down to seal (creating a ruched edge).

Boil for 3 minutes, and aaaaaah .... tasty dumplings.

For the dipping sauce, you can simply serve the dumplings with light soy sauce or sweet soy sauce. I like a mixture of black vinegar (or rice vinegar), light soy sauce and chilli sauce.

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

How to Cook and Forage for Wild garlic

 A blanket of wild garlic with our spaniel, Duke 

When you are out walking early spring, keep your eyes on the look out for wild garlic. In woodland, beneath the opening canopy of trees, you may find clumps of Allium ursinum growing densely in vast areas covering the ground.

The young leaves of wild garlic begin to emerge in March, and if you aren't in familiar territory, they can be easily overlooked. Quite by chance a few years ago, we discovered a patch close to our home. It was later in the season, so they had already formed clusters of white flowers,  meaning the leaves were less tender, but at least we could be sure it wasn't the poisonous Lily of the Valley.

We return to our favourite spot again this year, and will frequently visit over the season, which runs well into June.  As we reach down to pick the leaves, a garlicky perfume fills the air, a fragrance that is symbolic of the arrival of spring.

Reach down low and pick whole leaves, and where you can, the thin white stems as well (if you aren't planning to use them right away). Watch out for small stinging nettles (ouch!), which will have also begun to shoot up from the ground.

As we have an abundance of wild garlic so close to us, we forage every other day during the season.

Wild garlic growing  in woodland

Ideas for How to Cook Wild Garlic

Everyday food in our household is influenced by Asian and Chinese cuisine. A very typical way to use wild garlic is to simply add a few handfuls to a stir-fry or noodle dish.

Here are some more ideas on how to cook with wild garlic:
  • Add a few large handfuls of wild garlic leaves into a Thai red curry. Simply add the leaves toward the end of the cooking time
  • Into a pan, sauté wild garlic until wilted, before adding pancake batter for Wild garlic savoury pancakes.
  • Sauté wild garlic with mushrooms, for a vegetable side dish
  • Add wild garlic to prawn or chicken fried noodles
  • For something unusual, try making a Japanese steamed egg custard (Chawanmushi), adding a few garlic leave strips
  • NEW : Try making Wild Garlic & Pork dumplings

Saute wild garlic with mushrooms

Wild garlic savoury pancake

Thai red curry pork,veg & wild garlic

More on Wild Garlic on this blog:

Wild Garlic & Pork dumplings recipe
Wild Garlic in the Woods

Monday, 21 March 2016

Levi Roots Caribbean Cooking Class at Westfield Stratford

Discover Caribbean cooking with Levi Roots at his new restaurant Caribbean Smokehouse at Westfield Stratford in March & April 

Recently, I was invited to discover Caribbean cuisine at a cookery session held at his bright and colourful new restaurant, Levi Roots’ Caribbean Smokehouse at Westfield Stratford City. 

Created and run by the man himself, Caribbean enthusiasts will see how to make some of his favourite dishes from the menu as well as getting the opportunity to discover more about what makes the cuisine so distinctive.

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Scenes from the Countryside - Fluffy highland cattle calves

In the Chilterns countryside, there are many walks that take you through woodland, farms and scenic trails. One day, my husband and I were out walking and from the corner of my eye, I saw something watching us.

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Harvest in September

This year, I have been growing one of my favourite cherry tomatoes, 'Sungold'. You may recall I grew this variety on the Big Allotment Challenge last year in Episode 4 which won me a Best in Show award.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Vinothec Compass - An evening of Gastronomy and Golf

For some respite from the daily grind in Canary wharf, head over to the Vinothec Compass, where you can swing away the stress of the day with champagne and Basque pintxo bites, before settling down for Spanish casual fine-dining at the adjoining restaurant.

Friday, 7 August 2015

Summer Posy of cut flowers from the garden

In the garden, pretty summer blooms are waiting to be picked at every corner of the garden.

Lavender blue Scabious with their pin cushion centres and delicate, frilly petals are one of my favourite cut flower. Small white rose buds brought into the house, gently release their fragrance, as they open into full bloom. 

I also pick hot pink Antirrhinum (snap dragons as they are commonly called), the daisy-like Cosmos, intense purple clusters of tiny flowers from the Verbena bonariensis, coriander which has begun to flower, bright blue corn flowers and spiky balls of blue Eryngium sea holly. 

The flowers are casually arranged in this handcrafted posy vase, a perfect little vase to display cut flowers from the garden. 

There aren't any formulas here, just follow your heart.

'Margaret Merril' rose, 'Clive Greaves' scabiosa, Verbena bonariensis, Antirrhinum 'pink'
'Posy Vase' available from : LSA International, £16

Also seen here is 'Elements' coffee table by Camerich

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Simple idea for cut flowers in a jam jar

Sometimes the simplest ideas can be so beautiful.

Take an old jam jar and fill it with cut flowers from the garden to brighten up a lonely corner of the room.

Pick whatever flowers you have in the garden like Scabiosa, lavender, carnation Pinks, cornflowers, verbena bonariensis, alchemilla mollis, which are all seen here. For it's bright green leaves and minty scent, I've added some apple mint. The soft, spiky balls are Eryngium - which will turn blue.

Add some twine for a decorative touch.

Friday, 10 July 2015

A Growing Obsession Hampton Court – the Yardley London Perennial Garden

This year at RHS Hampton Court Palace Flower Show, I had the opportunity to visit the A Growing Obsession – the Yardley London Perennial Garden. I also volunteered to help at the garden for Perennial, UK’s only charity dedicated to helping all people who work in horticulture, and their families, when times get tough.

The focus of the A Growing Obsession garden is on women’s influence in gardening since the Victorian era and brings together a partnership between quintessentially English floral fragrance house Yardley London and long-standing charity for horticulturists Perennial, both of which have roots firmly planted in British floral heritage.