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Yesterday was our first wedding anniversary, and having spent the previous 24 hours tucked away in bliss at the Inn at Whitewell, and with the gorgeous warm weather, we decided last minute to have dinner at the allotment.
We boiled up some new potatoes, got a barbeque going to cook the sausages and burgers, and Mr Rigg watered the vegetables.
It reminded me of how much I enjoy cooking outside with the challenge of limited gadgets and gismos to help you prepare your meal. It reminded me of sunny evenings cooking market ingredients in the Loire Valley.
One day I hope to make this meal again, with everything but the sausages grown in my garden or on our allotment. I do believe that the best food is made with what’s available seasonally and from an idea of what it is you want to eat.
What started as a simple meal (and possibly one of our favourites), of grilled sausages, new potatoes and salad, turned into something a bit more interesting. The sausages came from the fab new Kenyon Hall Farm Shop, the new potatoes were boiled and violently shaken with salty butter and lots of mint from the garden.
But it was the salad that became something far better, using up odds and ends from the garden and the fridge. To a bowl I finely sliced spring onions, added a splash of white wine vinegar and some salt – I like to do this to take the edge off the onions. Otherwise I find that all you can taste is onion.
Last week we had incredible fish and chips from a place in Didsbury called Frankie’s Fish Bar, but it left me feeling guilty that all I’d eaten for dinner was deep-fried fish and potatoes.
So I was determined the following night to fill us full of vegetables, and this is what I came up with…
All the vegetables were English, although not grown by me. There were new potatoes, boiled and tossed in lots of salty butter and black better. Pink and white radishes sliced in half, asparagus spears and baby carrots blanched and sliced.
Broad beans and fresh peas shelled and briefly cooked in simmering water. Lots of seasonal salad leaves, crispy bacon shards, and those gorgeous nasturtium flowers (bought from Waitrose, so delighted they’re selling edible flowers).
Not a lot of complicated stuff, just a lot of shelling broad beans and slicing. But really delicious – I want to eat more of this sort of food over the summer.
Last weekend we celebrated the fine weather with our first barbeque of the season (hopefully not the last!). We had tiny buffalo koftas from Laverstoke Park Farm, asparagus, new potatoes baked in the embers, and homemade flatbreads.
This was a new adventure for us – attempting to make our own flatbreads - and I was desperately worried they would go all crispy, and not soft and doughy like I was hoping. If there was anyone I was going to put my trust in, it was Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.
There are some fantastic Christmas markets in Manchester at the moment, full of delicious foods. From Raclette melted over new potatoes and gerkins, to spaetzle and paella there are all kinds of goodies.
One of my favourite things at the Christmas markets is Flammkuchen – a German style pizza topped with a creamy sauce, bacon and onion. When I cook so much at home, it always feels quite expensive to eat at the markets. So instead we decided to give it a go at home.
I went in search for a recipe – mind you, it took me a while to get the spelling correct! I was inspired by this recipe because it used quark – an ingredient I’ve seen before but never known what to do with it. Here was the perfect opportunity to quell my interest – turns out it’s like cottage cheese without the lumps. Quite nice!
Pancetta or bacon
Preheat your oven 220°C.
Roll out the pizza dough as thin as you can.
Finely slice the onion – the thinner the better as the onion isn’t pre-cooked. I used pancetta rather than bacon and sliced it into lardons.
In a bowl mix equal amounts of creme fraiche, sour cream and quark.
Spread the creme fraiche mixture over the pizza dough, top with sliced onion and bacon before popping it into the oven for about 10-15 minutes or until it’s golden.
All it needs before eating is a good grind of black pepper…or not if your Mr Rigg.
Any other suggestions on what to do with the remaining quark would be graciously received!
For lunch today we had a delicious and quick meal – potato and chorizo hash with spring greens and a fried egg. It’s a great storecupboard or leftovers meal, we used up some leftover cold new potatoes and a chorizo sausage we had in the fridge (they keep for ages).
Heat up a pan nice and hot, slice up the chorizo into smallish piece and fry until they start to brown. Slice the cold new potatoes and add them to the pan, stirring carefully over a medium heat.
Season with some ground black pepper and cook until the potatoes start to go golden and crisp.
Finely shred a couple of handfuls of spring greens and add to the pan and stir in. Add a little dash of sherry vinegar and some salt (not too much, the chorizo is quite salty).
In a separate pan fry your eggs. When they’re ready pop the potato and chorizo hash onto a plate and top with a fried egg.
Sorry no pictures – maybe when I get a new camera I’ll make it again and take some snaps.
Last week I went to the fishmongers to pick up some fish for tea. I was thinking along the lines of simple baked fish with crushed new potatoes maybe with some softened spring onions mixed through.
There were both gorgeous red fleshed new potatoes and spring onions at Unicorn so this has steered my thoughts. On entering the fishmongers there in the chiller was a box of golden mushrooms. Wild Scottish girolle mushrooms to be exact.
It was one of those moments where you know instantly that you will be eating them for tea. So I carefully picked out enough for myself and Mr Rigg. I also bought a piece of Grouper – never tried it before, looked like a good chunky white fish so I thought I’d give it a go.
The fish was really tasty, with quite a strong flavour. The mushrooms pan fried in hot butter were incredibly moreish. And the crushed potatoes with spring onions – it’s the sort of food you could eat straight from the pan (and do when no one else is looking!).
Wild girolle mushrooms, baked fish and crushed potatoes with spring onions
2 pieces of Grouper (or other white fish)
150g wild girolle mushrooms
New potatoes for 2
2 cloves of garlic
4 spring onions
Lots of butter
Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to about 180°C.
Rub the fish in olive oil, place on a baking tray and season with salt and pepper. Cook in the oven for about 15-20 minutes or until done.
Whilst the fish is cooking, boil the new potatoes in plenty of salted water.
Clean the mushrooms (I used a pastry brush to remove any grit) and tear up any large ones. In a frying pan heat a generous knob of butter with a splash of olive oil. Add the mushrooms and fry on a high heat until golden.
Finely chop the garlic and slice the spring onions.
Drain the potatoes. Put the empty potato pan back on the heat and add some butter. Add the garlic and spring onions to the butter and cook until softened – don’t let them burn!
Once they spring onions have softened, return the potatoes to the pan and crush them up with the back of a wooden spoon - you’re not aiming for mash potato, but crushing the potatoes allows all the lovely butter and seasonings to work their way into the hot potato flesh. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
And you’re done – just simply put it all on a plate and eat!
I didn’t realise that you could grill smoked mackerel fillets – it turns out you can, and they’re delicious! This is one of the recipes Heston has done for Waitrose - I tweaked it a little, like substituting red onion for shallots.
It’s basically new potatoes that are tossed in lightly cooked onion, wholegrain mustard, lots of herbs and a dash of wine vinegar. The lovely tang of the potatoes goes nicely with the strong peppery fish. Very yummy especially when eaten with crisp garden salad.
The full recipe can be found here - perfect to use the seasonal bounty of locally grown Cheshire new potatoes near us. Here’s to another day of eating in the garden on a warm June evening…
Here’s the follow up to yesterday’s post – our really local dinner. Our local ingredients can be substituted with local produce from where you live or from your garden or allotment.
Grilled sausages, buttered new potatoes and a homegrown salad
7 Locally reared sausages (3 for girls, 4 for boys)
A bag of earth covered Cheshire new potatoes
A bowl full of homegrown salad leaves
Homegrown Rainbow radishes (or normal!)
Local peas from about 20 pods
A giant spring onion (from Unicorn)
A bunch of parsley from the garden
Extra virgin olive oil
A dash a white wine vinegar
Sea salt and black pepper
Firstly, finely slice the spring onion and add to a large bowl. Sprinkle with a dash of white wine vinegar and salt and leave to ‘pickle’ whilst you get everything else ready.
Preheat the grill. Grill the sausages, turning regularly, until cooked through and a sticky brown colour.
Put a pan of salted water onto boil. Scrub the new potatoes and boil until cooked. Drain, add a generous knob of butter to the hot pan, let it melt then slosh the potatoes around until well coated. Season with salt.
To the spring onion, add finely sliced parsley. Clean and top and tail the radishes, then slice and add to the onion and parsley. Pop the peas from their pods and add to the bowl.
When the potatoes and sausages are ready, add the salad leaves to the onion, radishes and peas and toss all the ingredients together with a glug of extra virgin olive oil.
Tonight we enjoyed a picnic dinner at our allotment after an hour or two of raised bed construction. This is what we managed to achieve – one half of my new herb bed:
We ate Majorcan new potatoes boiled then smothered hot in goat’s butter and lots of salt and pepper … grilled blackened sausages from Little Heath Farm in Dunham Massey dunked in Wilkin & Son’s tomato ketchup …
sliced tomatoes sprinkled liberally with salt and garnished with torn basil leaves (totally unseasonal but irresistable as the weather starts to warm) …
and slices of coffee coloured seeded bread from Red House Farm smeared with Oxford Blue cheese …
Sitting on an old rug looking out over our allotment eating good grub – what a blissful way to spend a weekday evening. Buddy peered down at us from the boot of the car, his nose twitching as the smell of sausages wafted up his nostrils.
Two little robins hopped around the allotments, perched on the spade…
then a tub of chicken manure pellets…
and finally an orange plastic bottle balanced atop a bamboo cane…