19 May, 2011

Simple supper #5

Quite glamorous compared to our usual mid-week suppers, but I just happened to have some white fish in the freezer, some asparagus in the fridge and a handful of little rocket thinnings waiting to get on the plate. Not a one pot supper, but simple enough to make and very tasty.

Roasted fish with tomato and olive relish

2 white fish fillets
50g pitted black olives
50g sun-dried tomatoes and some oil from the jar
1 tsp capers
1 garlic clove

Pre-heat the oven 200°C/180°C fan. Pulse all the ingredients for the relish in a food processor or chop roughly by hand. Lay the fillets on an oven tray and spread a heaped spoonful of relish over the top. Bake for 20 mins.

Roast asparagus on rocket with a parmesan vinaigrette

fresh asparagus
1 1/2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp olive oil
grated parmesan
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan. Trim the woody bits from the bottom of each stalk, lay the spears in a roasting tin, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 15 mins and set aside. Mix together the lemon juice, parmesan and olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Arrange the asparagus and rocket (and maybe a few cherry toms) on the plate and spoon the vinaigrette over them.

(The original recipes can be found in Fay's Family Food and Cook Yourself Thin.)

11 May, 2011

Wild garlic

Me and Hound set out to find some wild garlic and nettles this morning, but our trip was cut short by a rain shower. I had enough time to snatch two little plastic bags full of wild garlic leaves and flowers before starting our way back home. This is what I made.

Wild garlic pesto

100g wild garlic leaves with flowers
1dl extra virgin olive oil
50g pine nuts
50g parmesan
salt and pepper

Blanch the wild garlic leaves in boiling water for about 10 seconds, refresh in cold water and squeeze dry inside a kitchen towel. Put the wild garlic, olive oil and pine nuts into a food processor (if you like it strong you can also add a big clove of garlic) and blend. Mix in the parmesan and season. Keep in sterilised jars or spoon the mixture into ice cube moulds and freeze.
The pesto looks lovely and vibrant green (not resembling sick as in the picture, I apologise on behalf of my phone). I'm having some of the pesto today with some pasta and roasted veggies, and as there was only enough pesto to fill two small jars I'm hoping to make another trip this weekend so that I can make more and freeze some. There's nothing better than finding summery treasures in the freezer in the middle of winter.

I was tempted to try preserving some wild garlic bulbs using one of my marinated garlic recipes, but decided to steer clear of them as I found out they can give some people a stomach upset. I think the Jerusalem artichokes I planted earlier this year will provide enough excitement for now.

10 May, 2011

Chilli mania

I was supposed to grow a few different varieties of chillies this year, but things didn't exactly go to plan. I sowed two small packets of free chilli seeds (Cayenne and Anaheim) and some purple chillies (Numex R. Naky) and decided to ignore the instructions on the packet about heated propagators and keeping the temperature constant. I shouldn't have been surprised then, after weeks of waiting to see only one or two seedlings of each lifting their green heads from the compost.   

Thankfully it was a different story with my mystery seeds. I sowed a handful as I thought it unlikely most of the seeds would germinate and after a week had a tray full of seedlings.

At the present moment I have (thanks to a weekend trip to a very nice garden centre or two) five varieties of chilli plants happily growing in the greenhouses: Cayenne, Chenzo and Cheyenne came as a pack of six, a solitary Purple Gusto I couldn't leave in the shop because it said 'purple' (although apparently this too will eventually mature into a red chilli) and two Apache chillis fell into my shopping basket in Homebase, totally by accident. My own little seedlings are still being pampered in the baby veg section in the conservatory, but hopefully they'll catch up.

I now realise that my options for next year are as follows: I need to get my chillies as plants, buy a heated propagator or stick to growing one variety, Mystery Chilli.


I nearly missed spotting our first double-yolker, but here it is! It's the extra large egg (weighing 83g) that Cissy laid as a thank you for spring cleaning the coop. Of course I'd heard of double-yolkers before, but for some reason it didn't occur to me that we might get one. Now I know to be on the lookout for another one. 

Omelette for lunch, I think.

06 May, 2011

Spring cleaning

Cleaning the chicken coop is an ideal job for warm days, so as soon as the weather warmed up we took the whole coop apart and washed every nook and cranny. We used an ecological washing up liquid and a coarse brush to give it a good scrub, then rinsed the foam off and left the parts to dry in the sun. After putting the coop back together I sprayed the insides of the coop with a lice/mite spray to prevent any nasties and left the door and the eggport open to ventilate the coop before letting the chickens back in the run.

At this point I asked Hubby to catch the chooks one by one, so that I could give them a quick health check. This time I wasn't so totally shocked to find out that the girls had lice as it has happened before and the first time it was very easy to get rid of them. We sprayed the chickens and a few days later Cissy laid us this whopper as a thank you.

Our first XL-sized egg

To make sure all the lice had gone I sprayed the chickens again the following weekend and was happy to see their bums looking healthier already. I would have thought that this would be more than enough to get rid of all the lice and the eggs, but after having just checked the girls again I found Cissy's bum crawling with the little buggers. I didn't find any on Bella, but nevertheless both of the chickens got sprayed again. This time I'll be keeping a very close eye on the chickens and I will not let go of the spray can until all the nasties are gone. I don't know if I should blame the warm weather or the visiting wild birds, but I'm not liking it one bit!