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P1030351

What’s not to like? Rather weirdly, I’ve been hankering after nettles for ages. Today we went for a walk in the woods and I was compelled to have a little forage. I think it is probably too late in the season to be picking nettles, but I made sure to just pick the very youngest of leaves. The children thought I was crazy, which secretly amused me no end.

Ingredients

  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 leek, sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 litre vegetable stock
  • a bag of fresh nettles
  • a knob of butter
  • a swish of cream
  • ground black pepper

Wash the nettles, I’ve tagged this recipe as vegetarian, but I have to tell you that there were a few little green-fly fluttering around. (Incidentally, it is wise to pick your nettles above knee height, for obvious reasons!)

Gently fry the onion, allow to soften. Add the leek and garlic and cook until completely soft, but be careful not to brown. Add the vegetable stock, then the nettles. Wilt.

Whizz it together in a food processor and return to heat.

Add a little butter and a swirl of cream.

Enjoy.

 

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P1030345

The sun is trying to shine and the elder is in bloom. It’s time to make elderflower cordial.  I was given a bag of flowers and a scribbled recipe from the school gardening club. I thought it might have been passed down from generation to generation, but then I found the original online. So here it is, summer in glass:

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 kg granulated (or caster) sugar
  • 1 1/2 litres water
  • 2 unwaxed lemons – pare the zest then slice into rounds
  • 85g citric acid
  • 20 fresh elderflower heads, stalks trimmed

Put the sugar and water in a large pan. Heat gently, without boiling, until all the sugar has dissolved. Stir occasionally. Then, bring the syrup to the boil and then turn off the heat.

Rinse the elderflowers in cold water and shake off any excess.

Add the lemon zest, lemon slices, citric acid and elderflowers to the syrup. Cover and allow to steep for 24 hours.

Line a colander with a clean tea towel and sieve the ingredients through. Discard the bits left in the towel.

Decant the cordial into sterilized bottles.

The cordial is ready to drink straight away (try diluting with sparkling water) or will last for up to six weeks in the ‘fridge.

It can also be frozen in ice-cube trays so you can just use as required.

P1030341

This is just the easiest, most delicious, healthiest and beautiful bean salad there ever was. So lovely, I just had to share.

Ingredients

  • 500g broad beans (in their pods)
  • 2-3 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 spring onion, thinly sliced
  • zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
  • a handful of parsley, chopped
  • a drizzle of olive oil
  • season to taste

First, remove the beans from their pods –  I think this is one of the most satisfying of culinary tasks.

Next, steam the beans for about 5 minutes. Run them (in a sieve) under a cold tap then remove the tough skins, to reveal the bright green loveliness beneath.

Combine with the other ingredients – and enjoy!

SHOULD SERVE 2-3, but I ate them all by myself.

 

 

P1030339

This is a perfect evening meal after a rainy spring day. Comforting, but not too heavy –  and absolutely full of flavour. I used a combination of exotic mushrooms for glamour and brown mushrooms for flavour. Delicious.

Ingredients

  • a knob of unsalted butter and a little olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely sliced
  • 300g arborio risotto rice
  • 250ml white wine
  • 700ml vegetable stock
  • 200g wild mushrooms
  • a dash of thyme
  • about 75g parmesan cheese (or vegetarian alternative)
  • chopped flat leaf parsley

Melt the butter and olive oil in a deep, non-stick frying pan. Add the onion and cook until soft, but not brown.

Add the rice and stir it into the buttery onion mix until the edges of the rice grains turn translucent.

Pour in the wine, and stir until it has been absorbed by the rice.

Add the thyme.

Add the stock, a ladle at a time, stirring continuously.

When the stock has all been added, and the rice just about cooked, add the mushrooms. Cook for a further 4-5 minutes.

Just before serving, sprinkle the parsley over the risotto.

Eat straight away.

SERVES 2

Here's one I made earlier

Here's one I made earlier

Hi, my name's Helen and I live in London with my husband and two children. When I started piping the potato on my shepherd's pies, my husband suggested that it might be a good idea for me to find an outlet for my creativity, so here we are. I spend a lot of time in the kitchen, the extra twist is that I don't eat meat (I do eat fish though) and Jim, who loves meat, is always on a diet. Here are a few recipes that I have enjoyed making for my family.

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