Archive for the ‘Garden Recipies’ Category


Celeriac - How To Grow And Cook Your Own Celeriac With The Rural Gardener

Christmas is around the corner which we so look forward to in our household. It’s a special time for family and friends to come together and to take time out for some well deserved rest and recuperation.

The garden is fairly quiet at this time of the year for us, but we still have a few of our favourite veg to enjoy not least my most favourite of winter veg, celeriac. We always find room to grow a row every year and have had mixed success to be honest, but this year I think I may have found the secret to growing decent size celeriac.

I start my celeriac seeds off in late may, early June in a seed tray when any sign of frost has past. The seeds are tiny so a packet of seeds will go a long way, so sprinkle the seeds thinly on the surface of the compost and firm with a tamper. Best not to water from the top or you’ll likely wash the seeds away.

I stand my seed tray in second tray of water to allow the compost to soak up the water from beneath. As soon as I see water appearing on the top of the compost I lift the tray out and stand on the seed bench.

The seed are slow to grow away but don’t give up on them as they will eventually appear after about 3-4 weeks. When they are large enough to handle I prick out my celeriac plants into 3 inch pots a celeriac have a fairly robust but fine root system and need plenty of room to grow.

It’s important to keep them well watered as celeriac hate dry conditions. In the mean time prepare the soil where you plan to plant with a good helping of compost or well rotted farmyard manure.

They are hungry feeders and prefer to have the roots in damp soil, so don’t skimp when preparing the ground. I plant the young celeriac plant about 10-12 inches apart in mid July and that’s about it until late September. As soon as the base starts to swell I add a little comfrey to a watering can every other week.

I mentioned earlier I discovered a secret to growing decent size celeriac this year, well here it is. By the way feel free to pass it on as I’m sure this made a difference.

At the beginning of November while I was weeding around the plants I thought the soil was looking a little tired, so I added a couple of inches of compost as a mulch around the base of each plant.

celeriac-3

If you think about it I guess it had to make a difference as the roots of the celeriac are all over the fruit, so makes sense to provide more growing medium for the plants to grow.

Celeriac - How To Grow And Cook Your Own Celeriac With The Rural Gardener

Not rocket science I know, but it seems to have made a difference to this years crop. It appears to have provided the celeriac with the perfect growing conditions as we lifted the first of this years harvest earlier today and as you can see they are a bad size at all!

Here are just a few of the recipes I use for cooking my Celeriac.

1.Celeriac and Cauliflower Mash

Really simple recipe and a great substitute for potato mash if you’re on a diet. John has been on a diet since October and has lost nearly two stone! … Much of which is down to removing potatoes from his diet … But more on that later. To cook your celeriac and cauliflower mash:

  1. Clean and peal your celeriac and chop into 1 inch cubes.
  2. Add to a pan of cold water and bring to the boil.
  3. Simmer for 15 minutes until the celeriac is cooked through.
  4. After cooking the celeriac for around 8 minutes break off a few florets from a fresh cauliflower and add to the pan.
  5. Turn the heat back up to bring it back to a simmer and cook for a further 7-8 minutes until the celeriac and cauliflower are cooked through.
  6. Strain the water off, add a knob of butter and a teaspoon of cream to the veg.
  7. Season to taste with salt and pepper
  8. Mash until smooth and serve.

One tip when your making this dish … Resist boiling the living daylights out of the celeriac and cauliflower or you’ll remove the delicate flavour. Simmer the veg gently and keep checking it.

2. Roast Whole Celeriac

To cook your celeriac and cauliflower mash:

  1. Wash and peel a medium size celeriac
  2. Take a grater and grate the sides up until the celeriac is a nest round shape.
  3. Slice off the bottom to leave a flat surface
  4. Heat an oven pan in the hob and add a little vegetable oil and a tablespoon of butter
  5. When the butter has melted add the celeriac and baste repeatedly with the butter and oil
  6. Sprinkle a little fresh thyme over the celeriac, a generous shake of smoked paprika, salt and pepper.
  7. Place in the oven for around 35 minutes until the celeriac is tender. You can tell when the celeriac is cooked by sticking a long needle into the centre. If the needles slides in easily the celeriac is cooked.
  8. Slice into chunks and serve with roast pork or poultry. Alternatively serve as a main with roast sweet potato and fresh green beans.

3. Baked Celeriac

This recipe came from watching Ruth Mott one Christmas when the children were small.

  1. Prepare your celeriac as before and slice into half inch thick slices.
  2. Place the slices in an oven proof dish and cover with a basic white sauce made from plain flour, butter and milk. Make sure the celeriac is covered completely.
  3. Season with grated nutmeg, salt and pepper.
  4. Grate some good quality cheddar and sprinkle over the top of the dish.
  5. Cook in a moderately to oven for around 25 minutes until the celeriac is cooked through
  6. Remove from the oven and add some salt and vinegar flavour crisps to the top and return to the oven for another 10 minutes.
  7. Remove and serve.

These are the three recipes I use most for my celeriac but have been known to boil a whole celeriac and while warm cut into small slices for a celeriac salad dressed with warm grain mustard dressing.

If you’ve never grown celeriac before I urge you to have a go as the deep nutty celery flavour is a taste of Christmas that you’ll come back to year after year! 🙂

Best wishes,

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Bramley Cooking Apples

Bramley cooking apples make a great seasonal pudding!

It’s been an excellent year in the orchard with pretty much all the fruit trees providing gorgeous fruit. From delicious eating apples, to plums, pears, and super Bramley cooking apples.

But I was wondering what to do with my left over Bramleys, other than the usual processing options like purees, pies etc I was a bit stumped.

Then I was speaking to a friend at my sewing class and she came up with a great suggestion, which I thought I must share with my readers. It’s simple to make and has a real seasonal flavour, which is perfect with Christmas just around the corner.

Baked Apples Stuffed With Mincemeat

Basically you take a good sized Bramley cooking apple and remove the core.  I found it best not to take the whole core out, but leave a small piece at the bottom. I’ll explain why in a sec.

Bramley Apple cored

Carefully remove the core, but leave a small piece in the apple

Scoop out some of the apple to leave a good size pocket in the top half of the apple. It’s purely down to personal taste, but I like to sprinkle a little cinnamon powder inside my Bramleys for that special Christmas flavour.

Then take a large spoon of fruit mincemeat and stuff it into the hole. Make sure you press it right down to the bottom (which is why we didn’t take all the core out) and remember to leave a little extra on top, as the mincemeat tends to shrink back when it’s cooked.

Filling Bramley Apples with mincemeat

Finally, take a square of tin foil (about double the size of the apple) and wrap the apple in the foil into a neat parcel.

 

Repeat the process for as many apples as you can fit in your freezer and you have the perfect winter pudding!

You can cook the apple parcels from frozen, straight out of the freezer. Just put them on a tray into a hot oven, and cook for between 45 mins and an hour, depending on the size. What could be simpler!

When they’re cooked, remove the foil and pour over copious amounts of home made custard, or if you’re feeling particularly naughty lashings of cream!

Very nice indeed.

Best wishes,

Tania.

If you’d like to keep this post for future reference I have created a PDF. It’s absolutely free, so please feel free to download as many times as you like, with my best wishes.

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Fresh, Organic Tomatoes ripening on the vine.

If you’d like to keep this post for future reference I have created a PDF. It’s absolutely free, so please feel free to download as many times as you like, with my best wishes.

<YOUR FREE PDF DOWNLOAD>

A Fun Method For Storing Your Surplus Tomato Crop For Winter

It’s fast approaching the time of year when it’s time to start to thinking about storing the surplus tomatoes ready for use over the winter.

We grow quite a few tomatoes in the polytunnel each year and always have a few tomatoes left over which we either cook and store in tubs in the freezer, frozen as whole tomatoes for soups, or processing into home made tomato chutney.

How to freeze tomatoes

Here’s a slightly different idea for using those left over tomatoes.

Heat a large saucepan of boiling water until it is just starting to steam, then add enough tomatoes to fill the pan. Leave them in the boiling water until the skins start to crack.

Take them out of the boiling water and put them in a bowl of cold water. (It makes it easier to remove the skins)

Take a blender, or masher and blend your tomatoes to a pulp. It’s worth passing them through a sieve to remove any unwanted skins or seeds which will keep the tomato mix nice and  smooth.

Next, allow the tomato to cool down, then, using a measuring jug  pour the puree into either mini muffin trays or individual Yorkshire pudding trays. At this point you can flavor the sauce to your own taste, or leave it plain. I like to add a few leaves of basil, marjoram or oregano to give the puree a taste of the Mediterranean.

Tomato puree waiting patiently to go into the freezer

Here I’m using a regular Yorkshire pudding tray

Put the tray in the freezer over night to set hard, then the next day take the tomato parcels out of the tray, bag them up and return them to the freezer.  Each parcel is equivalent to roughly two whole tomatoes.

Tomatoes stored ready for winterThis summers tomatoes ready for winter
The next time you need fresh tomato sauce for your chili, casseroles or pasta dish, simply dip into your freezer and add a few pieces to the pan!

Best wishes,

Tania.

PS. I also freeze my soft leaved herbs like Lovage, Parsley and Marjoram in the same way. Whiz them up in a food processor, or chop them finely, then place them into a measuring jug and add some water. Then freeze in the same way as the tomatoes.

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Elder flower Champagne

Wild Elderflowers

Elder flower Champagne – A Summer Treat

I’ve always wanted to have a go at making my own elder flower champagne so thought I’d give it a go this year.  Second and third week in June is the time of the year when the flowers of the elder plant are ready but it only lasts for a couple of weeks  so you need to head out to hedgerows  this week and gather your harvest.

Elderflower Champagne - A Summer Treat

Snip off a few flower heads next time you’re out for a walk.

The recipe I’m using is a combination of several I’ve found on the web so fingers crossed we should be drinking our first bottle of Peach Grove bubbly in about 4 – 6 weeks, if all goes well. 🙂

It’s really simple to make Elder flower Champagne so why not give it a try.

Ingredients

  • 15 Litres of water
  • 5 Tablespoons of vinegar
  • 3 Lemons
  • 1 bag + 1lb of sugar (refined)
  • 15 Elderflower heads

Method

Put the sugar into a large clean plastic container and add a kettle full of boiling water. Give it a stir to dissolve the sugar then add the cold water. Shake off the elderflower heads to remove any creepy crawlies and add to the mix.

Elderflower Champagne

You need a container large enough to hold 15 litres of liquid

Then, squeeze the juice of 3 lemons and then add, along with the lemons.  Finally add the vinegar and give it good stir.

Loosley fit the lid on your container or drape a piece of muslin or a tea towel over the top.

Set to one side occasionaly stirring about every 6-8 hrs.

Check it after a couple of days to make sure it’s started to ferment. Basically you should see air bubbles rising to the top.  In a few days the champagne will be ready to bottle.

Best wishes

T.

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Rural Gardener - Cucumbers ready for turning into chutney

Cucumber Relish

One of the challenges of a successful harvest is to find a home for the surplus. Having first given a load of our crop to friends and neighbors T tried her hand at making relish. We have now have several jars of a really tasty relish that goes with pretty much with anything. Out first tasting session was with a smoked cheddar we bought recently from the Shaftsbury show which was just superb!

2lb of Cucumbers
2lbs of Cooking Apples
1 1/2 lbs of Onions

1 Pint of Malt Vinegar
1lb of Demerara Sugar
1 Tsp Salt
1 Tsp Mustard Seeds

Peel, core and chop the apples.
Peel and chop the onion finely (or bite size if you prefer your relish chunky)
Cut the cucumber into small pieces and scoop out the seeds.
Put the apples onions and cucumbers into a pan along with the vinegar. Bring to the boil and simmer until the contents are soft. (Open a window or your kitchen will smell like a fish and chip shop!)
Add sugar, salt and mustard seed and continue to simmer untill the mixture thickens. If it doesn’t thicken for any reason then add a tablespoon of cornflour first dissolved in a little cold water.

Fill a few jars with the cooled relish, add lids and store for 3 months .. unless like me you can’t wait that long and just have to try it. 🙂

Enjoy!

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One of the exciting things about growing your own vegetables is you start with a tiny seed hoping for the best but never really knowing if you’re going to be successful or not. I remember planting out my tomatoes in ‘Organic’ grow bags and having never used them before I have to say I was a tad skeptical of the outcome.

I don’t know what we we worried about. We planted 12 plants in the polytunnel and the results have been fantastic to say the least.  We collect a basket like this pretty much every weekend.

As you can see from the photo’s we tried a number of varieties and they all cropped really well. But when it came to the taste test, (we do it with all our veg) there was quite a difference in taste.

If you have a surplus of tomatoes you can always try making your own tomato chutney. You will need:

  • 2lb of Tomatoes
  • 2lbs of Cooking Apples
  • 1 1/2 lbs of Onions
  • 1 Pint of Malt Vinegar
  • 1lb of Demerara Sugar
  • 1 Tsp Salt
  • 1 Tsp Mustard Seeds

Peel, core and chop the apples.
Peel and chop the onion finely (or bite size if you prefer your relish chunky)
Cut the tomatoes into small pieces and scoop out the seeds.
Put the apples onions and tomatoes into a pan along with the vinegar. Bring to the boil and simmer until the contents are soft. (Open a window or your kitchen will smell like a fish and chip shop!)
Add sugar, salt and mustard seed and continue to simmer untill the mixture thickens. If it doesn’t thicken for any reason then add a tablespoon of cornflour first dissolved in a little cold water.

Fill a few jars with the cooled relish, add lids and store for 3 months .. unless like me you can’t wait that long and just have to try it.

Just imagine snuggling down in the middle of winter with a chunk of cheese, a glass of port and your finest tomato chutney!

Pure joy!

Best wishes,

Tania

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