30 September 2013

Gourds- one last time!


Are these photos of the gourds getting little bit boring yet? I'm sorry, but I couldn't resist. This is the last time, I promise. This year, at least. As you can see, we have tons of them. Well, a bucketful to be precise. Some of the other allotmenteers at our site don't really get growing gourds as they are only ornamental and not for consumption. Well, not everyone has to agree.

How about you my dear reader? Do these take your fancy as seasonal decorations or should they go straight to the compost?

Mrs V x 



23 September 2013

Butternut Squash



Look at those curves! It's been a good year for butternut squashes. These bad boys came home with us yesterday as their skin is hard and firm, the colour of them is about right, and they are pretty good in size. I shall let you know whether they were fully matured.



Mrs V x

16 September 2013

End of the summer



It certainly feels like it's the end of summer outside, the new seed catalogues make you start planning for the next season and the fork and wellies are ready in the corner of the shed for some proper action again. Someone told me the worst time for gardeners is now as there is loads of work to do but nothing really to harvest, pick or look forward to. Somehow this all seems little bit contradictory when I look around at the allotment and see what is growing. There are borlotti beans waiting for their red&green coats to turn to red&white ones, the carrots have only just reached a harvestable size, the skins of the butternut squashes are hardening up, the tiny Brussels sprouts have appeared, the romanesco cauliflower has revealed a beautiful head underneath the leaves, whether the parsnips will make up quantity with quality is yet to be discovered, and even the courgette plants are still producing. Sounds like it's rather eventful times, still.





 
Mrs V x

Ps. Sorry about the quality of the photos- I only had my phone handy at the time. Also the font seems to be strange- the joys of blogging on your phone. 

9 September 2013

Empire Roast Chicken

We had friends over on Saturday for some wining and dining and to watch Last Night of the Proms.

We started the evening with Kir Royals.



 The simple table setting was build around the gourds.




For dinner I made Empire Roast Chicken with Bombay- style potatoes. By Jamie. Of course. I did wonder whether roast chicken would be too ordinary for a special evening like this, but come to think of  it, the recipe is from Jamie's Great Britain cook book -very appropriate for the theme of the evening.  Also, this is, indeed, a real crowd pleaser, and enjoyed in good company with good drinks, this to me is food that celebrates life.


Serves 6

Ingredients

For the chicken and marinade

1.4 kg higher-welfare chicken
1 heaped tablespoon garlic, finely grated
1 heaped tablespoon fresh ginger, finely grated
1 heaped tablespoon fresh red chilli, finely grated
1 heaped tablespoon tomato puree
1 heaped teaspoon ground coriander
1 heaped teaspoon turmeric
1 heaped teaspoon garam masala
1 heaped teaspoon ground cumin
2 heaped teaspoons natural yoghurt
zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 level teaspoons sea salt

For the gravy

3 small red onions, peeled
1 stick cinnamon
10 cloves
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
3 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
3 level tablespoons plain flour
500 ml organic chicken stock
fat-free natural yoghurt, to serve, optional


For the Bombay-style potatoes

800 g new potatoes
sea salt
ground pepper
1 lemon
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
1 heaped teaspoon black mustard seeds
1 heaped teaspoon cumin seeds
1 heaped teaspoon garam masala
1 heaped teaspoon turmeric
1 bulb garlic
1 fresh red chilli, deseeded and finely sliced
2 tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 small bunch fresh coriander


Slash the chicken's legs a few times right down to the bone. Get a roasting tray slightly bigger than the chicken, then add all of the marinade ingredients and mix together well. Put on a pair of clean rubber gloves, then really massage those flavours over and inside the chicken so it's smeared everywhere. Don't be shy! Ideally marinate overnight in the fridge.

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas 6 and organize your shelves so the roasting tray can sit right at the bottom, the chicken can sit directly above it, right on the bars of the shelf, and the potatoes can go at the top. Halve any larger potatoes, then parboil them in a large pan of salted boiling water with a whole lemon for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are cooked through. Drain the potatoes then let them steam dry. Stab the lemon a few times with a sharp knife and put it right into the chicken's cavity. Move the chicken to a plate.

Roughly chop the onions and add to the roasting tray along with the cinnamon stick, cloves, vinegar and Worcestershire sauce, then whisk in the flour. Pour in the stock or water, then place this right at the bottom of the oven. Place the chicken straight on to the bars of the middle shelf, above the roasting tray. Cook for 1 hour 20 minutes.

Put another sturdy roasting tray over a medium heat and add the olive oil, the mustard and cumin seeds, garam masala and turmeric – work quickly because if the fat gets too hot the mustard seeds will pop everywhere. Halve a bulb of garlic and add it straight to the pan, with the sliced chilli and chopped tomatoes. Add your drained potatoes to the tray, mix everything together, then season well. Finely slice and scatter in the coriander stalks, and keep the leaves in a bowl of water for later. After the chicken has been in for 40 minutes, put the potatoes in.

Once the chicken is cooked, move it to a board and carefully peel off the dark charred bits to reveal perfect chicken underneath. Pass the gravy through a coarse sieve into a pan, whisking any sticky goodness from the pan as you go. Bring to the boil and either cook and thicken or thin down with water to your preference. Put it into a serving bowl and drizzle over a little yoghurt. Get your potatoes out of the oven and put them into a serving bowl, then serve the chicken on a board next to the sizzling roasties and hot gravy. Sprinkle the reserved coriander leaves over everything and serve with any condiments you like. 


Mrs V x

8 September 2013

Fabulous figs

I got these beautiful figs from a friend. It always astonishes me when someone is able to successfully grow figs in their back garden in England, especially really plump, juicy and sweet ones like these.


I cut a deep cross in the top of the figs, dropped a small piece of butter into the centres of the figs, drizzled honey and sprinkled cinnamon and chopped almonds over them. I popped them under the grill for 5 minutes and served with Greek yoghurt.


Perfect treat for a Sunday!

Mrs V x

1 September 2013

Midweek Harvest

This weekend has been all about giving some much needed TLC to the poor allotment that had been neglected while we were on holiday. During a very busy week, we've not had time to go there, except to quickly harvest a few things. 

You may have already seen a picture of the huge courgettes waiting for us on the allotment on Facebook. Before harvesting I just stared at these monsters in disbelief for some time. 
Their average weight was 3.5 kg! 

The cutlery is there to show the size of this thing, in case you were wondering. 

Our corn did not do very well this year, and we only harvested 9 cobs in total from 16 plants. Luckily, there is always next year. Of course, as they lacked in quantity, they sure did make up in quality and were so sweet and tasty. 



Ladies and gentlemen, I hope you are ready for this. I give you our first harvested Hooligan:


Off to the allotment!

Mrs V x
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