Tag Archives: rhubarb

Gardening, farms, markets and wild dining

Unfortunately due to a lack of bookings, supper club didn’t take place this weekend. It’s a shame as I do look forward to it, but hey every cloud has a silver lining and the lack of supper club simply meant more time in the garden, pruning, digging, planting up the veg patch and thinking of new ways to use the free wild produce growing there.

purple sprouting

spring cabbages

last of the winter lettuces, amazingly survived the snow and the cold protected in the polytunnels

On Friday afternoon I’d already taken advantage of the sunny weather and extra time on my hands to spend an hour at Moelyci environmental centre with the little one, the teen and their mate. I’d originally popped in to see if their rhubarb was ready (which I wanted to use to make rhubarb and ginger jam for my produce stall at the Moelyci spring fair this Sunday 17th April) and by chance also got the opportunity to visit their six new residents. The teen was less than enthusiastic so in honour of her swinish behaviour we named one after her….the littlun had a whale of a time pig herding and chasing them round a rather muddy enclosure, but was very sad to learn that in due course we would be enjoying Moelyci bacon!

Aidan pig herding

Roisin the pig, named after the teen ūüôā

My love of local produce doesn’t end at Moelyci and I spend lots of time hunting down new and exciting goodies. The markets (at Ysgol David Hughes on Anglesey and Conwy RSPB reserve) are a must, whether its to pick up some well-loved favourites or to hunt out something new, like the Rhyd y Delyn Caerphilly (not for sale yet but got myself a sample and its pretty damn yummy).

Derimon smokery
locally cultivated shiitake mushrooms

Back in the garden my wild garlic and sorrel patches expand every year, as do the nettles. While trying to keep them from creeping across the rest of the garden I also keep in mind that they are a very useful addition to the garden and a great free natural resource for cooking. Nettles are apparently high in iron and natural histamines and are a diuretic so good for detoxifying. They are probably the best free spring tonic you can get, although whether their histamine properties mean they ward off hay fever (which is just starting to kick in now the sun is out and the blossom is on the tress) I don’t know…but its worth a try! So off I went armed with a pair of thick gloves and a carrier bag to collect enough of the tips (it’s just the young tops that you want) for a big pot of soup. Today then on the menu was rhubarb, nettles and ramsons.

nettles and ramsons for the soup

For my nettle soup I melted 50g butter in a pan and sweated a large chopped onion, 2 sticks of celery and half a small head of fennel for about 10 minutes. I then added a large peeled and chopped potato (about 400g) half a carrier bag of nettle tops and a litre of chicken stock (but you could use vegetable stock) and allowed it to simmer for about 15 minutes until the potato was cooked. Once cooked I chucked in a small bunch of chopped wild garlic (ramsons) and salt and pepper then blitzed in the blender until smooth. Finally check the seasoning and add about 100ml cream. The soup has a light, delicate flavour, a bit like pea soup. I didn’t want to over do it with the wild garlic for fear of smothering the taste of the nettle (like a mild spinach) but you could add more if you wanted a stronger chivey sort of taste. All you need to enjoy is a sunny spot and maybe a glass of something cold.

creamy nettle and wild garlic soup

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Filed under British food, family budget cooking, Foraging for fruit, home cooking, local produce, Sources and suppliers, Uncategorized

Ramona’s Saturday night supper….murder, fetish and a leg of lamb

a happy bunch of supper clubbers

Ramona, a local belly dance and yoga instructor¬†http://www.ramona.org.uk/¬†and Kath Turner¬†http://www.kathturneryoga.com/index.html¬†another impossibly fit and supple yoga teacher had both been to supper club before, on that occasion¬†to celebrate another friends birthday. This time Ramona booked her own party so partners and other mutual friends could enjoy a nice dinner too. Kath and her partner are vegan and another attendee was vegan and gluten-free….having said this I noticed that all three ‘vegans’ lapsed at some point during the evening….noticeably once the cheese board came out!!

I was asked to prepare a menu that kept both avid meat eaters and vegans happy…no small feat…but¬†I hope I managed it their approval. The arrival of empty plates back at the kitchen is testament to it being good food I guess!!

The menu for the night was:

 Amaretto sour

Baked New season asparagus (with lemon)

Butternut squash risotto with crispy sage

Beef and wild mushroom Wellington, pink and green peppercorn sauce

Wild mushroom and spinach tart (vegan)

Potato and red onion gratin, Purple sprouting broccoli

Rhubarb and Cointreau cranachan (or compote for the vegans)

Tea or coffee, local cheeses, oat cakes and chutney

I noticed that one vegan decided to have the full cranachan¬†for dessert, then the final two lapsed when the cheese arrived, although i¬†did get some very lovely goats milk Camembert which is less harsh on the stomach than cows milk cheese if you don’t usually eat it . I also served Derimon’s¬†smoked mature cheddar¬†as used by chef Aled¬†Williams for his smoked cheddar mousse on the Great British menu http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00sbqfc, just as it was with spiced apple chutney.

The wild mushrooms came from Cynan Jones who was featured on countryfile last night http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006t0bv and the Welsh Black beef from a local hill farm, via Paul, my usual butcher in Bangor. I had the advantage of being able to visit the Ynys Mon farmers market on the Saturday morning (its only on once a month, which for me is not nearly enough) so had my pick of the asparagus, onions and potatoes.The herbs and spinach all came from my mate Molly (again) and the rhubarb from other friends in the village Matt and Karen. I promised them all freebies in thanks!!!

The food inspired some weird and wonderful dinner conversations; Rosie the teen waitress, who was no longer¬†on strike now I’ve agreed to pay her ‘minimum wage’ , like a ‘proper’ job, kept coming into the kitchen with anecdotes from the table…”do you know how to commit the perfect murder? I do. Go for a walk along the cliffs on a rainy night…” and then there was something about a leg of lamb…but¬†I didn’t quite catch all of that one….when¬†I eventually emerged from the kitchen I stumbled into¬†the middle of a conversation about fetish wear. One lady¬†was explaining how on a trip to London, being a country bumpkin, she decided to go check out a fetish wear shop…and was then encouraged to try something on. She squeezed herself into a lovely pink latex dress which left her “boobs round her ear lobes”.…but when she tried to get it off found herself stuck. Her companions tried in vain to peel her out and then the assistant came to help…he asked her if she’d used the chalk in the corner.¬†She looked blank….It finally took several helpers to get the dress over her head and she eventually emerged which a pop…like peeling off a too tight rubber glove. Lesson learned, always add plenty of chalk or talc before putting on your fetish wear.

Another guest described getting lost on route to a friend’s, whom she was meeting on the way to a burlesque party.¬†She ended up stuck¬†in her car in a small country road¬†fully dressed in stockings, corset the works, in the rain and the wind….and who said life in Wales is dull!!!!!!!

Anyway less of that, here are a few pictures of the night:

cooking wild mushrooms and herbs for the Beef Wellington stuffing

making beef Wellington with Welsh Black beef, wild mushrooms, herbs and spinach

The vegan and gluten free alternative, wild mushroom and spinach tart

new season asparagus

Sean shaking cocktails...Amaretto sour

baked tarts with potato and red onion gratin and PSB

Beef and wild mushroom Wellington with pink and green peppercorn sauce, potato and onion gratin and buttered PSB

Thanks family!!! Half the pictures of the night are of me with my head stuck in a cupboard trying to locate the last jar of spiced apple chutney. If only they took as many photo's of the food as they did my arse...

...anyway. I found it in the end

rhubarb and Cointreau compote and Cranachan's

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Filed under home cooking, local produce, Organic meat, secret supper, Sources and suppliers, Uncategorized, underground restaurant