Tuesday 30 June 2015

Broad Beans with smoked Gammon

This is the first meal I have cooked this year with home-grown Broad Beans.

Home-grown Broad Beans are not available very often. In my garden I usually only plant one batch, so their harvest season is limited to a couple of weeks, and I never have sufficient quantity to make freezing them a viable option.

My first dish using these beans was a really simple one, making full use of fresh vegetables and herbs. Here we are - Smoked Gammon with new potatoes (home-grown "Annabelle"), peas, carrots and Broad Beans with herbs, all complemented with a Parsley sauce.

I wish I could say that the carrots and peas were homegrown too. They weren't,  but these were:

So were these herbs - Parsley, Mint, Thyme, Chives and Savory.

Cooking this meal was incredibly easy. The Smoked Gammon was wrapped loosely in foil and baked in the oven for 90 minutes and then rested for a further 15 before carving. The potatoes were boiled in water with a few sprigs of Mint added. Once these were well on the way I did the other vegetables. They were all boiled, but added to the pan at different times. I correctly judged that the carrots would take longer to cook than the other two veg, so I put them in about 10 minutes beforehand. Then the peas and beans went in just for about 5 minutes at the end. I also added the Thyme and Savory at this point (leaves only).

The cooked vegetables were drained, decanted to a serving-dish, and smothered in chopped fresh herbs (the softer ones - Mint, Chives, Parsley). The final stage was to add a generous knob of butter and let it slowly melt before gently stirring it in.

Meanwhile, as the meat was resting, I made some Parsley sauce. I used the time-honoured roux method to produce a Bechamel, with flour, butter and milk, adding the chopped Parsley at the end in order to preserve its fresh flavour.

By this time the meat was rested and the butter had melted into the vegetables, so it was just a matter of serving up.

This is it: thinly-sliced roast Smoked Gammon with "seasonal vegetables".

The Gammon was not too smoky, so it did not overpower the rest of the dish, and we were able to enjoy the fresh flavours of the young veg to the full.

Monday 29 June 2015

Harvest Monday - 29th June 2015

This week I picked a couple of batches of Radishes - the first ones of my current sowing.

This batch is a mixture of "Cherry Belle" (round) and "Flamboyant 5" (long).

Although they were welcome, we thought they were not as nice as the ones I grew in the Spring. Somehow they seemed a bit watery rather than crisp in texture, and quite peppery in taste.

Flamboyant 5

The "De Ciccio" Broccoli yielded four nice spears:

I also harvested a few more pots of potatoes. These are"Annabelle" and "Winston".

"Annabelle" (Left) and "Winston" (Right)

This one is rather nice, I think!

These are "Vales Emerald":

When you look closely you can see that their skins are beginning to harden. If they had not been picked, these ones would soon have passed the "new potato" stage, when you can just rub or scrub off the skins. Not that we ever do, because we like the skins, and they are the most nutritious part of the tuber anyway, so it seems a shame to discard them.

The Strawberries are continuing to trickle in, a few at a time. Great taste, shame about the quantity (lack of)!

The best thing about growing your own Strawberries is that you can pick them at just the right point - when they are completely ripe (unlike some of the crunchy ones you sometimes buy in the shops!)

This week also saw my first harvest of Broad Beans, just over 500g.

Yesterday I picked a second lot, weighing-in this time at 1kg:

We had no immediate plans for eating Broad Beans, so these ones went into a plastic bag in the fridge, where they will keep quite happily for several days. I think it makes sense to pick them before they get too big. Over-mature Broad beans can be very floury.

We had Lettuce a couple of times. The red-and-green one seen here is "Amaze". It is quite similar (except in colour) to "Little Gem".

This is "Webbs Wonderful".

Those two are not prime examples of the type. The hearts ought to be really tightly-packed, but those ones aren't. I know why. They have been grown too close together. Given more space I think they would have developed more slowly and would have produced denser hearts. "Webbs "Wonderful" is really not well suited to my small garden.

We have also been using loads of Herbs - Mint, Parsley, Chives, Thyme, and Savory. They are at their best just now, mature and full of flavour, but not yet old and tough.

I love this time of year - the garden is beginning to yield up its bounty!

I am link this post to Harvest Monday, hosted as ever by Daphne's Dandelions, where I'm sure you will see all manner of good things being harvested from other people's gardens and plots.

Sunday 28 June 2015

Flowers of West Green House

Here are the photos of flowers at West Green House that I promised.

This is probably my favourite - a rose which I believe is called "Raspberry Ripple". If not, it should be!

Everyone knows the Lupin:

This is a Foxglove. A very unusual one too, both in terms of its colour and its (fluffy) texture.

This is a Peony:

Not sure about this one. Is it a Canterbury Bell (Campanula)?

And I have no idea what this is!

I recognise this one though - a delicate little Hardy Geranium.

I love this dark coloured Clematis. It's almost black.

This is an Astrantia.

We all know the Poppy too. There were poppies of many different colours to be seen, but I think this was the most striking.

Here's another Geranium, complete with bee.

And a steely-blue Eryngium.

This photo is of the butterfly (a Small Tortoiseshell), camouflaged against the background of Wallflowers and Roses.

Here's another beautiful Foxglove.

There was an area full of these little Turks Cap Lilies (Lilium Martagon), growing in profusion amongst the long grass.

Not just pink ones, either...

Irises there were in abundance too...

At the margins of some of the ponds there were patches of these moisture-loving Yellow Flags (Iris Pseudacorus).

There are several areas of the garden laid out as bog-gardens, though with the prolonged dry weather we have been experiencing they were not very boggy! This enormous Hosta didn't seem to mind too much.

I inspected the Philadelphus very closely, and was gratified to see that it's not just mine that is swarming with tiny black Pollen Beetles! This double-flowered cultivar is very nice.

This is something that most people would treat as a weed - Herb Robert, looking spectacular at present in its fiery red livery.

Despite the above, the over-riding impression of the garden this time was one of Roses. Hundreds of Roses, in every shape, size and colour imaginable!

And finally: this one is now officially on my Wishlist. A red Japanese Maple / Acer, which will of course require a suitably impressive pot as well...

If you live within striking distance of West Green House, I strongly recommend a visit. There is so much too see!