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The asparagus season has started here in England and I have been so looking forward to it. For that reason, we are feasting on the stuff at any opportunity, and will probably be sick of it by the end of its short season.
This is a simple meal of asparagus, topped with a couple of crispy slices of streaky bacon, accompanied by some toast smothered in butter and a soft boiled egg to dunk the asparagus spears in. You may see that I slightly over-cooked the egg so there was no dunking for us – not a mistake I will make again!
The asparagus came from Kenyon Hall Farm (also the people who run our box scheme Northern Harvest). The eggs were from Abbey Leys Farm – I follow Delia’s method for boiling eggs. The streaky bacon was care of Sue at Little Heath Farm, and the bread from Barbakan. So all in all a pretty local meal – and a tasty one at that!
Asparagus with crispy bacon and a soft boiled egg
Bundle of asparagus spears
4 slices streaky bacon
4 pieces of bread
Prepare the asparagus by gently bending the stems until they naturally snap – discard the woody stem. My preferred method of cooking asparagus is as follows (but feel free to cook them however you choose): Heat a narrow pan of water about half full until simmering. Use an elastic band to gently fasten the bundle of prepared asparagus together and place in the simmering water – the water should come at least half way up the stems. I use another pan of equal size, placed upside down on top of the first pan. This method enables the stems to cook in the water, and the delicate tops to gently steam.
Meanwhile, put your eggs on to boil – I follow Delia’s method for soft boiled eggs.
Cook the streaky bacon in a frying pan until nice and crisp.
When the asparagus is cooked, turn of the heat. Pop the slices of bread into the toaster and lightly toast. Take the cooked eggs out of the water and pop into your favourite egg cup – gently cut the top off to reveal the golden yolk. Butter your toast and pop it on the plate, along with a pile of steaming asparagus and top with the crispy bacon.
Sandwich…burger…I’m not quite sure what this creation is, but it definitely tastes scrumptious. This sandwich was devised to get us through Saturday – a dawn til way-past-dusk frenzy of furniture moving, hoovering, dusting, sorting, chucking, and reorganisation. I must say our house positively gleams now, and looks beautiful. However, this sandwich was needed to get us through that day.
It is most definitely worth sharing and I hope you all try it – equally delicious without the sausages for a yummy vegetarian alternative. The only thing I’d do different next time (there will be a next time I make this sandwich…I’m still thinking about it) is add a smear of sundried tomato paste to the bun before ladling in the other ingredients.
The bread baps and halloumi came from Barkbakan in Chorlton, the sausages from Little Heath Farm, and the roasted red peppers from a jar. The mayonnaise wasn’t homemade, I’m not sure it’s necessary for a dollop in a sandwich like this, but it was good quality organic mayo. I think this recipe would work equally nicely in the summer with a good handful of fresh basil.
Sausage, Halloumi & Roasted Red Pepper Sandwich
Makes two large sandwiches
2 large baps/buns/bread rolls/slices of bread
6 slices of halloumi
1-2 large roasted red peppers from a jar
3 tbsp semolina flour
salt and pepper
couple of dollops of mayonnaise
smear of sundried tomato paste
Firstly, turn the grill on and cook the sausages until golden brown and sizzling.
Meanwhile, combine the semolina flour, salt and ground pepper in a bowl. Take the slices of halloumi and coat in the semolina flour – this creates a nice crispy coating when they cook. If the halloumi is quite dry, smear over a little oil to mak the flour stick.
Heat a large non-stick frying pan with a glug of oil – use a piece of kitchen towel to wipe it evenly around the pan to ensure the cheese doesn’t stick. When the oil it nice and hot, carefully lay the halloumi into the oil and let it cook for a couple of minutes – without moving it – until it is golden. Then flip the halloumi over and fry on the other side until golden.
Slice your baps or bread rolls in half. Roughly slice the roasted red peppers. Smear over some sundried tomato paste and lay the cooked sausages on top (three on each). Next add the golden halloumi and a good handful of roasted peppers. Top with a dollop of mayonnaise and a sprinkle of fresh thyme leaves.
For lunch today, I finally made the coleslaw I’ve been wanting to make for the last two weeks. The two cabbage that I bought, were however bought two weeks ago when I first decided I wanted to try making coleslaw. I’d stored them in our back porch – which is somewhere between a shabby conservatory, a lean-to, and a boot room – as it’s freezing in there and great when I run out of fridge space. They probably weren’t as crisp and crunchy as they would have been two weeks ago, but notheless still good.
I finely shredded a small white cabbage and a small red cabbage. Finely sliced a small red onion, and grated half a giant carrot – probably the size of one normal carrot. In a bowl I combined a couple of tablespoons of organic mayonnaise, about two teaspoons of whole grain mustard, a little under one teaspoon of Dijon mustard, a glug of extra virgin olive oil, a splash of white wine vinegar, salt, pepper and a little warm water. I mixed this all together and added my shredded, sliced and grated veg. Stir it altogether and you have my version of coleslaw.
What I’ve realised is that you don’t need to think that you need to ‘attempt’ to make coleslaw. It is in fact, quite simple. I’m sure you could try lots of different combinations, and with a little bit of tweaking to create the flavours you’re after it would still taste great. So have a go, it’s the perfect way to eat raw vegetables at this cold and inhospitable time of year.
We ate ours two ways: N served his coleslaw with a minute steak (from Little Heath Farm) and a hunk of Cheese and Sundried Tomato bread (from Barkbakan – this bread is delicious, it is topped with mixture of seeds, one of which is caraway which seems to have the effect of hightening the cheese and tomato flavours); I ate mine with a potato, cheese and leek pastry.
Yesterday we took a trip to Little Heath Farm in search of a delicious cut of pork for our lunch today. We don’t normally do the whole Sunday Lunch thing, but every so often it seems like a nice thing to do. Today is one of those days, and we are working on the crackling as I write this post!
We’d bought our pork, some of their own grown potatoes (gently roasting in goose fat), and a couple of apples from a local orchard, and were on our way back to the car when two small piggy faces appeared from behind the barn. On further investigation, we discovered two young pigs rooting around on a patch of scrubby grass, clearly on the wrong side of their fence.
Sue came out of the farm house with a big smile and a wave, and we pointed out the escapees. Sue and her husband have managed to keep them in their field for the past four days without them finding a hole in the hedge, which is a record. Recently they were found on their way down the lane towards the local pub and beyond the road – eek! Sue has grave concerns for the local golf course should the pigs venture further…
As we left, having ordered our Christmas turkey – Trevor (the big daddy turkey) and “his girls” are housed in a barn looking towards the farm shop – Sue was seen disappearing behind the barn with a stick in hand. We have bought all our pork and beef from Little Heath Farm for over a year now, and have never before seen the pigs that their raise and who end up in our sausages. It was a truly special occasion to see the happy pigs that Sue and her family breed, care for, and eventually slaughter.