Category Archives: Local Produce

Quick Recipe – Asparagus baked in Parma Ham

This is another recipe that we used over the Jubilee weekend when we went back to Somerset to visit the family. It is so simple and quick to cook up, either as a starter or to go with a main meal.

As my Mum has always said and to which I agree:

‘I love English asparagus and wait every year for it to appear at a local fruit farm or even supermarkets. It is a short season but I will not buy asparagus from foreign sources, somehow in the autumn and winter it just doesn’t seem right. One day when my vegetable garden is enlarged I shall grow it myself.’

Asparagus is really versatile and can be cooked in various ways, just steamed, with butter (plain or garlic), or hollandaise sauce. Grilled on the barbecue or baked in the oven. The woody ends, which are snapped off before cooking, can be added to stocks for an additional flavour.

This recipe was first made when my Mum had a bunch of asparagus and some Parma Ham and wanted to stretch both to make a starter go further. The Parma ham can be cut into strips and rolled around each spear before baking, but it is fiddly and this is the simplest and quickest method as the Parma Ham always breaks up during cooking. We have made this loads over the years, so thought I would share it with everyone.

The flavour of the Asparagus is simply delicious after roasting with the Parma Ham!

Ingredients:
1 Bundle of fresh Asparagus – (English)
8 Slices of Parma Ham or Prosciutto
Olive or rapeseed oil
Parmesan shavings
Freshly ground black pepper
1 non-stick baking tray

Oven 200C; 400F; Fan 180C Gas Mark 5/6

1. Wash the asparagus then take hold of the woody end and snap it.

2. Lay four slices of Parma Ham onto the baking tray and place the asparagus on top, brush the spears lightly with a little of the oil.

3. Sprinkle with black pepper to taste

4. Lay the other slices of Parma Ham on top.

5. Put in the oven for about 10-15 minutes, checking to make sure the ham is not burnt and the asparagus is soft (al dente is preferred)

6. Remove from the oven and put on a warm dish and using a potato peeler shave Parmesan cheese over the top if required.

7. Serve with crusty bread and/or a rocket and tomato salad, dressed with a balsamic and oil dressing.

NB – this can be part of an antipasto or a starter.

Enjoy!

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Elderflower Cordial

As a child, elderflower cordial always seemed like a very grown-up drink – though we drank it with soda water or tap water. My family always loved foraging in the hedgerows to make a variety of home-made wines, which until I was much older I was not allowed to drink! It was always great fun to collect the elderflowers and always picked more than was needed just to get the best ones for the cordial. It is really refreshing on a hot sunny day and tastes great!

Ingredients:
20/25 Sprays of elderflower heads – picked on a fine day when the fragrance is intense and not near a road
Zest of 1 orange and 1 lemon – both unwaxed
Lemon juice
Sugar – unrefined will give a darker cordial.

1. Snip the flower heads from the main stems and place in a large bowl.

2. Pour boiling water over them – just enough to cover and press them well down.

3. Cover and steep until cold or overnight.

4. Strain the liquid through muslin and squeeze all the liquid out.

5. Measure the liquid and put in a pan and for every 500ml (18fl oz) add 350g (12oz) of sugar and up to 50ml (2flozs) lemon juice.

6. Taste to make sure your cordial is neither too sharp nor too sweet by adjusting the lemon juice.

7. Heat gently to dissolve the sugar stirring occasionally and then bring to the boil, just to thicken the syrup – about 2 minutes at the most but every batch seems to be different.

8. Strain again through muslin to remove any scum and pour into clean sterilised bottles.

9. Seal with screw caps, or corks, and keep in the fridge. I like to use the mini wine bottles that are dark green.

10. Serve diluted with chilled fizzy or soda water.

The cordial can be used to flavour home-made ice-cream, mousses etc.

NB this recipe can be doubled, trebled, however much you want to make.

Enjoy!

Homemade Beef Burgers

I make my own beefburgers as most bought ones contain rusk or breadcrumbs, which is fine if you don’t suffer from coeliac disease. Not only can you get your butcher to mince you some good quality free-range beef but you can get more for your money.

I always make mine the same way but was intrigued to read in the Sunday Times, in a cookery article by someone whose name I forget, that his stepson – William – made his beefburgers with the same ingredients that I use, only he added an egg to his basic mixture. He also gave the recipe for a ‘Ploughman’s burger’ this just had some added extras to the basic mixture. I had to try his recipe and they are very good indeed, and I’m sure he won’t mind if I share his recipe with you.

I also make a spicy burger just by adding sweet chilli sauce to the basic mixture, but if you like them really hot just chop an extra chilli into that mixture.

I imagine that any flavouring could be added to the basic mixture including a curry paste – though that is one flavour I have not tried yet!

I serve the plain beefburger in warm soft rolls with a tomato relish or a garlic mayonnaise. The Ploughman’s burger the same way. But I think would serve the chilli burger with some soy sauce, chopped spring onions and red peppers and the curry burger with mango chutney mixed into some plain yoghurt.

All of them go well with a salad, a glass of wine, a warm summer’s evening and family and friends.

(Printable Recipe)

Ingredients:

Basic recipe:
2lbs/900g Good minced beef
1 Large onion very finely chopped
2 Cloves of garlic finely chopped
A good handful of chopped parsley
Salt and black pepper

Ploughman's version:
To the basic mixture add 3½-4 ozs/100g of grated mature cheddar cheese
3tblsps Dijon mustard
4 heaped tblsps Onion marmalade

1 In a large bowl mix all the ingredients together with your hands until well mixed.

2 Shape the mixture into burgers; they can be whatever size you wish to make them.

3 Place them in the fridge for an hour or two before using, as the chilling helps stop them falling apart when cooking.

4 They can be cooked medium-rare or well-done depending on taste, and a BBQ gives the best flavour.

NB The burgers can be made in advance and frozen, but they are best used within 2 weeks. Important defrost thoroughly before cooking.

Enjoy!

Wine Tasting Afternoon

Tasting Date: 03/10/09

I had been looking forward to this tasting afternoon since The Romsey Show a month ago, especially as it was going to be wines from the Rhone region which are my personal favourites.

Rather than the 15 minute walk to the train station, we bumped into our neighbour while coming back from walking his dog and he offered to take us up to the station, which was real a bonus, especially as it was starting to look very gloomy overhead.

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An hour later and we arrived at the Wine shop and were greeted by Mrs Dawkins one of the owners of Heaton Wines. We were warmly welcomed in and asked if we were there for the wine tasting. Once we had an empty glass in hand, the pouring started and we began trying and enjoying the wines on offer.

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We started with a Domaine Bressy Masson Rasteau White Cotes Du Rhone Villages that came straight from the fridge. Not having had too many white rhones before, I did not know what to expect. I was pleasantly suprised as I am not a huge white wine drinker. However it did taste a whole lot better once the wine had warmed in our hands.

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Next we moved onto the Reds and the ones we had on offer to try were:

Domaine Bressy Masson Cotes Du Rhone 2008
Chateau de Montmirail Gigondas 2007
Domain Du Pourra Seguret Cotes Du Rhone Villages 2004
ending up with the chilled sweet Red Vin Doux’s.

Having had a bottle of Domaine Bressy Masson Cotes Du Rhone 2007 from The Romsey Show, I wanted to try the 2008 version. After a sip or two I realised it was so different, only being a year newer. It was so much lighter than the 2007 and didnt have the same depth. However it still tasted great and would make a fantastic supping wine, so we bought a bottle to bring home and enjoy.

Quickly moving on, we tried the other two reds and they were fantastic, going down very easily. I think I will be back for some of the Seguret for dinner parties and possibly christmas too!

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Once we had spent at least an hour trying the wines on offer, we were advised to pay a visit to the Art Portfolio Gallery down the road, where an Irish artist, Philip Gray, was displaying his paintings and where the rest of the Heaton Wine staff were in attendance with champagnes, and more wines, including a Rose Cotes Du Rhone.

We were welcomed in by Paul Dawkins from Heaton Wines and promptly given a glass of champers, at which point I had lost how many glasses we had tried!! The most bizzare thing then to happen, was to see Charlie Dimmock entering the small gallery, as the guest visitor for the opening. She seemed very nice when I briefly spoke to her at the bar area.

I enjoyed my time in the gallery, viewing all the paintings and meeting many new people like Lyn Ebdan who I discovered is in-charge of The Romsey Show.

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Just before we left to catch our train home, there was a presentation made to Charlie, by Philip, of one of his paintings, so I decided to take a couple of snaps before leaving. The gallery then asked if I could email the pictures I had taken to them once I got home, as they wanted to try and get a piece in the next edition of Hampshire Life Magazine (wonder if I will get the credit?).

Sat on the train home and then actually having to do the 15 minute walk home in the much cooler evening, it allowed the wines to wear off and let me reflect on what had been a fun and bizarre day all in one!

I’m looking forward to my next wine tasting trip to Heaton Wines already!

Goose Slade Farm Shop

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Are you looking for fresh local country produce in the South Somerset area?

If so, we highly recommend a visit to Goose Slade Farm Shop, near Yeovil, which has been open to the public for several years and stocks many local products, including their own organic geese.

Products on ofer are local breads, wines, beers and ciders, meats, cheeses, fruits and veg and gluten free products, as well as local luxury items.

Whenever we come home, we always make a trip out to the Farm to stock up on our weekly shopping.

You can always expect a cheery welcome and chat from Philip and family, and they are always keen to tell us about their latest ranges and produce.

Enjoy the visit and a cream tea at the same time!

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Urban Foraging

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When I was younger, the idea of being dragged out for the afternoon fruit picking with the family was as much fun as going to the dentist. But recently, with the advent of TV shows like River Cottage, ‘foraging/fruit picking’ has become a growing trend, which I got suprisingly hooked by when going for a walk this afternoon (saturday) in the woods behind our home.

We started to notice bush upon bush of untouched blackberries within a few minutes of our walk, so abrubtly turned round, picked up a container and went back to start filling it. Within only a few minutes, we had collected just under a pound of blackberries and were already deciding what to do with them.

When we got back home we decided that we would try to make three things from them all:

Blackberry and Apple Crumble (Gluten Free)
Blackberry Compote
Blackberry Vinegar

the last two being more of mum’s suggestions and recipes. Over the next few days I will add the recipes on here, once I have tried them out.

Now I realise why we were dragged around picking fruit as children, as you cannot find fruit this fresh in your local supermarket!

On the walk home, we also noticed bushes of sloes and elderberries, so if tomorrow is fine weather, I think another walk is in order. Already have some ideas as to what to do with them!

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Blackberry on Foodista