Saturday, 25 May 2013

Macerated Strawberries with Mint Syrup.

Hull and chop your strawberries and place in a bowl.
Sprinkle with sugar and lemon juice and add some alcohol - white or rose wine is good as is cassise - and leave to macerate.
For the mint syrup place half a cup of water, sugar, a few whole pepper corns and the mint into a sauce pan and heat until the sugar is melted.
Take off the heat and leave to infuse.
When cool remove the mint and peppercorns.
If the syrup is too watery after cooling reduce it.
Scatter the strawberries with a few fresh mint leaves and serve with the syrup in a separate jug.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Hensting Barn, Woodland Grove and Hare Lane.

Hensting Barn
A nice circular walk from Hensting Barn, pictured above(SO50 7HH) on Hensting Lane, taking in a couple of short, but beautiful green lanes.
To the left of the farm entrance is a style that takes you into the field besides the barn. Follow the foot path up the hill and across the following field. After climbing another style and walking through the trees you come onto a farmers track next to a field of crops. Follow this track along and just after you pass the woods to the right there is a left turn into Woodland Drove. Follow the drove down.
About half way down this drove we spotted two hares a fair way off in a field to the right of us - been a long time since I have seen a hare so to see two at once was nice.
A little further on passing through a copse was a wonderfull display of bluebells.

Continue down Woodland Drove until you come to the road at the bottom (B3354) and turn right heading towards Twyford. After about five minutes walking there is turning to the right into Hare Lane. We did see a rabbitt as soon as we enterered the lane, but no more hares! This is a small holloway that leads back up onto the downs.
Hare Lane
The lane peters out as you rise onto the down and you rejoin the original path close to Gabriels Copse. Turn right again and follow the track until you are retracing your steps back down to Hensting Barn.
The walk took just over an hour at an easy pace with the occasional stop.
Back of Hensting Barn

Friday, 17 May 2013

Wild Garlic and Comte Omelette with Seasonal / Foraged Salad.

An omelette with my favorite cheese and some foraged (and bought) greens.
Whisk the eggs together in a bowl and season.
Pour into a warmed oiled omelette/frying pan and cook.
When the omelette is half cooked add shreded wild garlic leaves and then grate in some comte cheese.
When cooked fold and serve.
For the salad I used some bought mixed leaves and added parsley, rocket, and sorrel from the garden and  foraged salad burnet and wild garlic leaves. Dress simply with a little oil and lemon juice and season.
At this time of year you could also find Garlic mustard (Jack-by-the-hedge) young lime leaves, wood sorrel etc.

Wild Garlic Butter and Wild Garlic Salt.

A great way to preserve wild garlic into the late spring and summer - courtesy of Mark Hix.
He also did a wild garlic pesto!
Wash and dry your wild garlic leaves. Place on a rack or baking tray and place in an oven set on fan only to dry out. They may need turning several times and it can takke hours! They reduce in size and change colour to a darker colour but the flavour intensifies.
When the are dry (bone dry - no moisture left at all) oyu can grind them up with sea salt and store in a air tight container or mix with butter for garlic butter / garlic bread.
The salt should keep for months if the garlic is totaly dry and the butter can be frozen.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Hop Shoots and Asparagus.

With not enough asparagus in the garden for four starters to accompany the venison I decided to bluk it up a bit with some hop shoots.
I steamed the asparagus,  thicker stems in first, for a few minutes and then added the skinny stems (you don't get this problem with shop bought as they are usually all a similar size!) then for the last 30 seconds or so of cooking add the hops shoots (any leaves picked off).
Take the steamer out of the sauce pan discard the water and add a little butter and olive oil to the hot pan. Roll the cooked asparagus and hop shoots in the metled butter.
Add a squeeze of lemon juice, season and serve.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Haunch of Venison with Liquorice.

Venison is one of my favorite game meats.
This was a rolled haunch large enough for four people.
Cut the haunch into two equal pieces as this makes it easier to cook. Marinade in a little olive oil, crushed juniper berries and season.
Bring to room temp before cooking.
For the Liquorice  sauce place several pieces of good quality hard liquorice or pontefract cakes in to a sauce pan with about 2cm of water and heat on a very low heat until they are dissolved. Keep warm.
Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees.
Get a skillet or other type of frying pan that can go into the oven very hot and colour the meat on all sides for about 2 mins on each side.
Transfer to the oven and cook for another 10/12 mins.
Remove from the oven and pour over some of the liquorice sauce and cover with foil and rest in a warm place for 5-10 mins.
Carve and serve with more of the sauce.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Asparagus, Mushroom and Wild Garlic Pasta.

A big bowl of oyster mushrooms going cheap at the market and the first few asparagus spears of the year inspired this supper.
Put your pasta on to boil - I used fettuccini, but any quick cooking pasta is ok.
While it is cooking prepare the sauce.
Saute the mushrooms in a good glug olive oil until they are softened and cooked through. Add the sliced up asparagus spears and cook for a minute. Loosen the sauce by adding a little water from the boiling pasta. When the pasta is cooked add the shreaded wild garlic leaves.
Drain the pasta and stir in the sauce.
Serve with a topping of parmesan cheese.

Monday, 6 May 2013

Sprouting Broccoli and Blue Cheese Soup

A really easy and quick soup this one- made after buying a large bunch of purple sprouting broccoli in Winchester market that need using quickly.
Trim the woody ends off the broccoli and put in a pan with enough water just to cover. Bring to the boil and simmer for 20mins or so until the broccoli is softened.
Add some vegetable stock and warm through. Blend until the desired consistence and add some blue cheese - I used some Bleu des Basques, but any good blue cheese will do.
Warm through until the cheese has melted and serve.