Posts Tagged With: local food

Wild Garlic (Ramson) and Walnut Pesto

Ruth’s hand mid forage

Another hedgerow classic via our Beach House brother, Dan. This recipe was originally taken from the great book, ‘Wild Garlic, Gooseberries and Me’ by the brilliant Dennis Cotter. I haven’t read it, but will hopefully be acquiring it soon.

This is a cracking little recipe, nice and quick to get together and you gain the infinite pleasure of cropping your own bunches of wild garlic (or ‘Ramson’ in some parts of the world), that are free and absolutely delicious.

The amazing thing about pesto, like most good things, it gets better with age (to a point!). An overnight stay in the fridge and POW, the flavours leap out at you.

We will be trying it tonight with almonds (we have a walnut shortage) and mixing it into some wholewheat penne. Yum!

Thanks and hugs to Dan and Ruth for their constant inspiration.

The Bits

100g wild garlic leaves, 50g shelled walnuts, 200ml olive oil, 40g Parmesan, salt, pepper

Do It

Add all ingredients to a blender and give it a good blitz.  A small food processor is best here, like the ones you would use to grind coffee.

Wild garlic and walnut pesto

Serve

We have pesto spread thinly on toasted oatbread, or mixed in with wholewheat pasta.

Foodie Fact

Interestingly China in the largest producer of garlic in the world, at 13 million tonnes of the stuff, followed closely by India (800,000 tonnes), then comes Egypt and South Korea.  France is not even in the top ten!

Dennis Cotter is an Irish veggie chef who owns the ‘Cafe Paradiso’ in Cork. His cookbooks and approach to all things veggie cooking are always fresh and very delicious.

Heres a link to a great little garlic producer in Scotland, the really garlicky company.

Categories: Dressings, Foraging, Friends of B.H.K, Local food, Recipes, Sauces, Snacks and Inbetweens, Wales, Wild food | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Homemade Ricotta with Wild Garlic and Mint

Wild garlic and mint

I realise that I write regularly about making my own cheese.  It is something that I am quite fascinated by.  I have tried yoghurt and using live cultures etc, but it is difficult, especially due to the fluctuating temperature of our cottage (we only have a wood burning stove for heat) and the temperamental weather (British weather is utterly mental).  Live cultures etc don’t seem to like this, they are sensitive sorts.

Making ricotta requires non of this effort.  It is a fail safe method of making your own gorgeous cheese.  Not complex or pungent, but super smooth and creamy.  Every time.

This is a simple technique.  I would advise you seek out good quality, organic milk for best results.  Once you try it, you will not want to go back to the shop bought variety.  This is a real homemade treat that takes no time at all and actually saves you money.

I have mixed a few fresh herbs in here.  We had just picked some wild garlic, we took a wrong turn on Anglesey and ended up driving through a field of the stuff! The mint is beautiful looking, grown by the good people at Hooton’s Homegrown.  I walked into the kitchen this morning and was greeted by the wonderful aroma of these two and could not resist combining them with the cheese.

Ricotta means ‘recooked’ in Italian and is a so versatile.  It goes well in savoury and sweet dishes.  I love it with some warm oat bread and honey and it makes a delicious base for pasta sauces, we have also used it with dark chocolate for dessert (see here).   This ricotta recipe is excellent as it can be stirred directly into warm pasta.  It is basically a great thing to have in the fridge.

I am sure that this is one of those cooking techniques that you will use again and again. You can even make paneer, just use the same method but use a semi skimmed milk (the ricotta uses whole milk).  See a recipe here on the brilliant Kolpona cuisine blog.

There is no waste here.  After the curds have formed, drink the whey.  This is packed full of good protein.  It’s the same stuff those muscle bound freaks buy for inflated prices (and biceps!).  The whey can also be used in cooking, its great in stews, soups and even breads.

Cheesecloth had always eluded me.  I had heard of this mythical fabric but never owned any.  I have resorted to all sorts of strange methods to compensate for it.  I mentioned this to Jane and in her ever thoughtful fashion, she bought some in a little shop somewhere in Yorkshire.  I am now the proud owner of a metre square.  Thank you honey!

The Bits

1 litre of good whole fat milk (makes enough for a decent sized ball), juice of 1 lemon or 2 tbs cider vinegar (or any distilled vinegar), 1 teas sea salt, 1 handful of wild garlic, 1 handful of fresh mint, 1 piece of muslin/ cheese cloth.

Homemade ricotta with wild garlic and mint

Do It

Heat the milk in a pan gently until it is steaming and small bubbles are forming around the edges, do not boil.  Add the lemon juice of vinegar, then stir a couple of times to mix.  Take off the heat and leave for 5 minutes, allowing the curds to form.  Line a medium sieve with your cheese cloth and place over a bowl.  Gently pour the milk/ cheese through the sieve and allow to drain.

Making the cheese

The longer you leave it to drain, the drier the cheese.  Think about what you would like to us it for.   I recommend leaving it for around 10 minutes.  Cool and cover, place in the fridge, it be good for around a week.

When the cheese is fully dried, chop your herbs finely and mix in with the cheese.  If it is proving to be too dry, mix in a little olive oil to get things lubricated.  Taste the cheese, add more salt if you like.

Using vinegar will give a cleaner flavour, lemon will make it slightly lemony.  Again, it depends on how you would like to use the cheese.

Serve

We had ours mixed into roasted root veggies, with our Sprouting Spring Salad.

Roasted root vegetable

Foodie Fact

You can use goats milk for the ricotta, it will be more tangy.  In Italy they use alot of sheeps milk, which is very smooth and creamy and of course the famous buffalo milk, which is equally as good.  It is fun to experiment with different milks.  I have to say, I like the ricotta we get from local Welsh milk.

Calon Wen Milk

Pickled Part

You can’t beat a crisp dry white wine with a fresh cheese like ricotta, something to cut through that awesome creaminess and get your palate sparkling.  We had a lovely Chilean Sauvignon Blanc which worked a treat.

Categories: Local food, Organic, Recipes, Snacks and Inbetweens, Wales, Welsh produce, Wild food | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

May’s Coffee Challenge – Welsh Coffee

We love Wales and feel that the local produce and suppliers just don’t get  the credit they deserve.  There are some amazing producers, doing amazing things with amazing ingredients!  In a way, we are lucky, because many of these Welsh gourmet types are not well-known.  We have them all to ourselves!  One such producer are the good people at Welsh Coffee.

Welsh Coffee

Welsh Coffee are a company from South Wales, producing fair trade coffee in small batches.  They pride themselves on intense coffee that is ‘roaster’ fresh and superior quality.

This month I am dedicating myself to transforming my dining area into a bijou cafe, serving the finest roasts and if I am lucky, a warm piece of Carrot and Bean Cake (see following post).  This is going well, a little Parisian music in the background, some attractive flowers, a nicely cushioned chair, there is just one thing missing, other people.  The atmosphere is a little subdued.

So ‘Builder Steve’ came over yesterday to look at our gable end (we are having damp issues) and I invited him to join me in the newly opened Beach House Cafe (not dissimilar to our dining area with a few bags of coffee scattered around the place) .  He’s a good coffee drinker and likes it black, which to me, is always a good sign.

‘Builder Steve’ is a local legend and one of the most philanthropic folk you are likely to meet.  I decided to crack open some special beans that I’ve been saving for just this kind of moment, our Welsh Coffee Aur (Gold), dragon roasted in Wales from 100% Arabica beans.  I had a feeling this was going to be one hell of a brew…..

Nicaraguan and Panamanian Beans

I ground the beans up, they were dark and shimmering and formed a lovely almost black powder.  The smell of fresh coffee filled the hours for hours after.   The beans for the Aur (Gold in Welsh) coffee are sourced from farmers in Nicaragua and Panama, two countries that we love.

I left it to brew for 5 minutes in our trusty orange cafetiere, the smell was intoxicating.  This dragon coffee is powerful stuff!  It produced a coffee with a deep colour and incredible aroma.  It is medium bodied with a balanced and smooth aftertaste.  This is the kind of coffee that can be enjoyed at any time, anywhere, anyhow!

(A short Welsh language lesson.  Coffee is Coffi in Welsh.  Which is one of the only words I can easily remember.  My Welsh speaking in developing slowly.  I also know the word for Taxi, which is Tacsi.  Poor show really.  I hope to get to some classes soon.  The first Welsh I actually learnt was via a band named  ‘Ffa Coffi Pawb’ (translated ‘Everthing’s Coffee Bean’), this was Gruff Rhys, lead singer with the Super Furry Animals, second band.)

‘Builder Steve’ and I chatted for a while, we talked of wrestling sheep, nuclear war heads being stored in the next village and the sin of damp rendering.  It was almost like a normal cafe experience.  Steve agreed that it was a ‘seriously good’ cup of coffee and a definite step up from the Nescafe he normally drinks on site.  I took this as a glowing reference for these lovely Welsh roasted beans.

Welsh Coffee – Aur (Gold)

Categories: B.H.K Reviews, Local food, Wales, Welsh produce | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

The B.H.K Garden Photos – Spring and Seeds

We hit the patch. 4 types of potato in furrows, blue, white, red and knobbly.

April in the B.H.K. garden has seen much activity.  Mainly we have chopped wood for next year, but we managed to squeeze some gardening in also.  

We are following organic practices , with a little biodyamic thrown in (new moon and all).  The veg patch has been turned several times, with piles of local horse manure from the adjacent field and four different types of potato have been planted.  Pete at Trigonos Farm, Nantlle, kindly donated the seeding potatoes (some just sprung to life in our veg basket!).  We have blue, red, white and knobbly.  One day I will learn the names of them.

The front garden is full of herbs and four different types of latin american bean.  We hope for great things from the latin bean patch this year.

We also expect lots of flowers, some wild strawberries and the regular marjoram infestation.  The slugs are happy, but we plan on trapping them in underground cups with beer in.  Slugs like beer!  Get them tipsy and they seem to lose interest in plants.  Probably opting for a kebab instead.  

The newts have returned to the pond and the frog spawn seems to be wriggling even more.  Bring on the frogs!

We have a dodgy looking gang of sheep hanging around our back wall, but we have reinforced the defenses and hope to keep them out this year.  Apparently they like to walk along the walls and eat all things green.  The are also very dim and noisy.  

Breaking news – beetroots, green beans and leeks are rumoured to be on the way.

We are keen amateurs at best in the garden, any tips would be greatly appreciated.

Here’s hoping for zero food miles soon! 

Happy plantingX

Beach House herb garden circa April '12

Our seed trays (formerly traffic cones)

Jane puts her back into the spuds

The local beige tree frog

Happy cook with the sun on my face.

Categories: 'The Good Life', Garden, Healthy Living, Local food, Organic, Wales | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Ernie’s Easter Eggs

The 'Ostrich' Easter Egg

Happy Easter!

A nice time of year, but it does seem strange to still have snow on the ground.

I woke up this morning to find a psycedelic goose egg on the kitchen table (Jane had been up to some late night craft scribbles) and a nice slab of cherry chocolate.

Which triggered memories of my own egg painting days.  I once won a prize at school for dressing an egg up as superman. Which remains one of my highest accolades in the field of art (and tailoring).

Being Easter, we have eggs on the mind.  Not chocolate though, Ernie’s eggs. Ernie is an old navy captain who lives with his dog Paris and a garden full of ducks, drakes, geese and chickens.  It’s a proper cottage menagerie.

Some of Ernie's Bantam Eggs

Ernie’s fowl seem to like the sun and springtime snow, they are popping eggs out at an incredible rate, meaning an abundance for the Beach House table.
Ernie lives just down the way and has recently recovered from a broken hip that he injured whilst delivering our Christmas card. We do live on quite a steep hill!

Ernie’s cares greatly for his birds, they run around semi-wild, eat fine grains and are housed in a selection of well appointed coops.  You can see it in the eggs, which are really rich with brilliant yolks.  Perfect for soldier dipping (‘soldiers’ are slang for sticks of toasted bread, to avoid any unnecessary military confusion).  The first time I saw one of his goose eggs, I was sure he had a ostrich tucked away somewhere.  They are huge!  We haven’t eaten one yet (it’s the weight of around five hens eggs) but apparently they are good for baking. Goose egg brownie?!  I may crack it tomorrow, I’ll keep you posted.

We may not have a shop in the village, but at least we have an Ernie.

Lots of Easter love from the BHKXXXXXXXXX

P.S. – If you’re in Carmel, it’s 6 Duck Eggs for a pound.  Bargain.

Categories: 'The Good Life', Baking, Breakfast, Local food, Organic, Wales, Welsh produce | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Rhubarb Triangle

I admit to getting nostalgic about rhubarb.

It would be fair to say that, for large parts of my childhood, I was raised on rhubarb.  Times were hard, no one had heard of mangos!  I used to have a den near a rhubarb patch and would regularly eat the stuff raw and probably covered with soil.  I have many great memories of Mum’s rhubarb crumbles with custard.

I was interested to learn about the ‘Rhubarb Triangle’ in sunny Yorkshire (England). It’s a 23 sq km triangle, but during the rhubarb boom years of the early 20th century, was a whopping 78 sq km. We’ve just gone off crumbles (and rhubarb)! Why?  It is such a star of the British food world, with a unique bittersweet flavour and is full of nutrients (packed with Vitamin A, B and K).

Rhubarb is a native of Siberia, which explains to some extent why it thrives in this triangle of Yorkshire. They produced what is called ‘forced’ rhubarb, grown in large sheds and at one time, Yorkshire produced 90% of the world’s output. North Yorkshire Rail used to have a special rhubarb train running daily, carrying on average, 200 tonnes of the tasty stalk. It even reached the markets of Paris.


In 2010 the rhubarb triangle was given a P.D.O. (Protective Designation of Origin), like wine and cheese, normally on the continent (but increasingly more so in Britain, our produce is finally getting some respect).

The rhubarb is kept in well fertilised fields for two years, then shown a little frost and put into the warmed ‘forcing’ sheds. They then begin to sweeten up, converting stored carbohydrate into sugar.  The rhubarb grows to around 2 feet in length and they are picked by candle light, as the rhubarb stops growing in light.

Forced winter Rhubarb is bright crimson and more tender than the outdoor summer variety. By March the harvest is over.  Wakefield Council are still running an annual Forced Rhubarb Festival in February.  If you’re interested?

Rhubarb is doing ok, but took a big hit after WW2 when more exotic fruits (I know its not specifically a fruit) became fashionable. The pineapples and mangos etc in Britain are rubbish! Terrible. What are they treating fragile papayas with to make them last the journey from Central America? It is mental that we eat these fruits regularly on this grey island.  They are inherently tropical.   I don’t expect a good pint of bitter in Costa Rica!

Rhubarb however is local, delicious and picked by candlelight. Romantic, red and ravishing (sort of)…..drop the kumquats, support your local rhubarb bunch and eat more crumbles!

Expect more rhubarb action soon at the B.H.K. or check out the ‘Rhubarb and Custard Cake’ recipe below.

Categories: Local food | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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