Sunday, 29 September 2013

Squid with Fennel and Tomatoes.

Made with home grown tomatoes and the last few fennel fronds left it tastes far better than it looks!
Pre-heat your oven on a very low temperature 100 - 120 degrees.
In an oven proof pan soften  a chopped onion in some oil. Add a finely sliced clove or two of garlic, some crushed fennel seeds and a few slithers of chopped chilli. Season and then add your cleaned and chopped squid. Cook for a few seconds and then add a splash of white or rose wine. Cook off the alcohol, and then add chopped tomatoes.
Put on the lid and cook in  the oven for about an hour.
Serve with boiled potatoes or rice with a sprinkling of chopped fennel fronds.
As an alternative to the crushed fennel seeds and a more substantial dish you can add chopped florence fennel before you add the squid.

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Roast Partridge with Kale and Cobnuts.

Very seasonal this one - Kentish cobnuts are wonderful and in season now as is all game - they are larger than hazel nuts and have a wonderful flavour and creamy texture.
Pre heat your oven to 220 degrees. Place a bay leaf and a knob of butter inside the partridge. smear the breast with butter and season. Place in a roasting tin and roast for 15minutes.
While the partridge is roasting steam the kale and cobnuts.
Place the cooked kale and nuts into an oven proof dish place the cooked partridges on top - upside down so all the butter goes back into the breasts and rest in a warm oven for five or six minutes and then serve.

Friday, 27 September 2013

Spiced Rum Poached Figs.

Pour enough rum to nearly cover your figs into a saucepan. Add brown sugar to taste, a squeeze of lime juice, cassia bark (cinnamon), a couple of cardmon pods and some all spice. Heat to just before boiling (you can boil off the alcohol if you wish) turn off the heat, place your figs in the sauce pan, put on a tight fitting lid and leave to poach for 7-10mins.
Remove the figs and reduce the cooking liquor to a syrup.
Remove the spices and pour over the figs and serve.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Spinach Soup.

A quick and easy soup made from a whole bag of spinach that was in need of using.
Melt some butter in a large saucepan and add your spinach.
Wilt down the spinach on a very low heat constantly turning with a wooden spoon.
Eventually you end up with a ball, keep working this until it starts to break up into a paste.
Add a good veg stock and cook through. Season and wizz in a blender until smooth.
Serve with a sprinkling of nutmeg.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

From The Archive : Pontack Sauce.

Last weeks walk and seeing the Elderberries reminded me of this great seasonal sauce.
Place a pint of elderberries in a casserole dish and then bring a pint of claret to the boil in a sauce pan and pour over the berries.
Cover and place in an oven on the lowest possible setting overnight.
Pour off the resulting liquid into a sauce pan and add 1teaspoon of salt, a blade of mace, 40 peppercorns, 12 cloves, a finely chopped onion and 1 teaspoon of ginger. Bring to the boil and boil for ten mins.
Bottle - unsieved.
It will keep for up to a year and the flavour improves with age.
I find it goes very well with lamb and venison, if fact most red meats and game.

A short walk around Upham.

Entrance to the holloway at Street End.
This was a short walk I did the other sunday around the village of Upham in Hampshire.
I started the walk at Street End, which is no more than a farm and a few houses! There is a holloway that starts there and heads north west towards Bigpath Farm.
 Its a short lane that dips down and rises again giving wonderful views over the south downs and surrounding countryside.

Views over the downs.
You eventually emerge from the lane at Bigpath farm, and the hedge row here was full of purple elderberries and draped with Traveller's Joy (Wild Clemetis) which when it goes to seed in the autumn is called Old Man's Beard.
Traveller's Joy.


Cross the road and head along bigpath, which is a wide chalk track that brings you to Woodcote Farm.
Turn left onto the road and after a very short walk along the road to the left is Woodcote Lane.
 Lots of Speckled Wood butterflies along the first part of this lane, but they never stayed still long enough to get a photo!
This lane takes you up the side of the hill into Upham and give great views to the right over Blackdown.
Woodcote Lane.

View from Woodcote Lane over Blackdown.
Woodcote lane emerges onto the road at the top of White Hill and you turn left into Upham.
Pass through the village, which has a very good pub the Brushmakers Arms (, which can be found on Shoe Lane and serves local brews and very good food.
Turn left past the duck pond and can take the Monarchs Way back over the downs or if you prefer to walk on the road  Peak Lane, both which lead you back to Street End.

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Potato Gratin with Sage & Onion.

Easy and quick to make and very tasty!
Slice a potato or three as finely as possible and place a layer of them at the bottom of an oven proof dish.
Then add a layer of sliced onion and a sage leaf.
Keep layering the potato, onion and sage - occasionally adding a bit of butter and a light sprinkling of seasoning.
Grate some good cheese on top - I used Lincolnshire Poacher - and pour a little cup of milk over to.
Place in an oven at 180 degrees for about 35-40 mins until the potato has cooked through.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Cottage Pie.

An unseasonaly cold sunday put me in the mood for this great traditional comfort food.
First cook your minced beef in oil until coloured then add and soften a chopped onion.
Next comes finely chopped celery and carrots.
When the carrot has softened season with salt & pepper and add good glugg of red wine - raise the heat slightly and cook off the alcohol. Add a cup of water or veg stock and on a slightly lower heat reduce the liquid by half.
Reduce the heat and add chopped herbs and a few bay leaves - i used a mix of rosemary, thyme and marjoram. Add a good dollop of english mustard and stir in.
Now add any other veg you are using - anything seasonal is good- think cottage garden - courgettes, dwarf beans, peas etc etc.
Cook through and then transfer into your pie dish to cool.
Peel and boil potatoes and mash with butter and a little milk until creamy.
Spread the mash over the top of the beef and vegatables and put in a oven on 180 degrees to cook through.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Poached Rhubarb with Pomegranate Syrup.

Cut your rhubarb into pieces and place into a oven proof dish. Sprinkle with sugar and half cover with pomegranate juice.
Place in an oven on 180 degrees for around 10 mins (you want the rhubarb to cook through but keep its shape and some firmness).
Drain the liquid into a sauce pan and keep the rhubarb warm.
Add extra sugar to the juice and reduce on the hob until it is a syrup.
Pour over the rhubarb and serve with ice cream - I used ginger and vanilla as both these flavours go really well with rhubarb.