Friday, 17 June 2016

Forage and make homemade elderflower cordial

Look out for elderflower in June ......

Since arriving in the UK and discovering elderflower, I drink it all the time, usually in the form of shop bought elderflower pressé.

This year, I am making my own elderflower cordial, which as it turns out, is quite simply made from elderflowers, lemons and a basic sugar syrup.  It is so refreshing and the scent of freshly picked elderflowers is intoxicating.

For my first attempt, I used this BBC homemade elderflower cordial recipe.

Make a sugar syrup, and then simply immerse the flowers and lemon slices, and leave to infuse for 24 hours.  As I didn't have citric acid, I made a smaller volume of cordial, to be consumed quickly.

You can also watch Mary Berry making her elderflower cordial, although she uses both citric acid and campden tablets, which I've since discovered can be ordered online from Lakeland (

Forage for elderflower

Elderflowers can usually be found in hedgerow and can be large shrubs. In fact, you'll struggle to reach the flowers from the tallest branches, so pull down the branches you can reach and snip of the flower heads.

The best flowers to use are the ones which still have some unopened buds.

Carefully wash the flowers before using, to remove any dirt and small insects.

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Country style rose posy from the garden...

A bouquet from the garden....

Late spring, beautiful ivory ruffled 'Margaret Merril' roses and pale apricot pink 'Chandos beauty' roses are coming into bloom in our garden.

I gather the roses, together with nepeta, sage buds and some silvery grey foliage, arranging the cut flowers into a posy vase to add a dreamy, romantic feel to our home.

Vase: LSA International posy vase 

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Growing Tomato & Zucchini in my greenhouse...

Tomato plants in the raised bed

Tomato seedlings

The last few months have been busy in our garden. My dream greenhouse build was finally completed and ever since, it has been a flurry of activity as we try to get all our seeds sown.  

Here is a quick look inside my new greenhouse.

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).

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.

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.