Sunday, August 18, 2013

Culinary Escapades

It's being a bit of a foodie weekend.

Leigh has been working mainly with fruit - it's jam season and we still have a boatload of strawberries in the freezer from a few weekends ago when we headed off to Scaddows Farm to pick them. Added to that, Leigh's Mum gave him a box full of blackberries from her garden so he's been catching up on some jam-making this weekend. He made strawberry, apple and lime jam, and a blackberry chutney yesterday, and there's a spiced blackberry jelly straining in the kitchen as I type. Wonderful!

I've been doing things with vegetables. We have started getting a veg box again, from Riverford Organic Farms - it's still a little expensive compared to what I would spend normally at the supermarket, but it is making us eat veg I wouldn't normally buy, which is a good thing. We've had 3 boxes so far and have managed to eat our way through all of them so far which we're very pleased about. The first couple of weeks we had bags of pod peas which we gave to Leigh's Dad (he's a huge fan!), and then were able to use up anything else we didn't eat during the week in a large spaghetti bolognese!

This week we had a bag of spinach, 4 apples, 6 pears, a melon, 2 globe artichokes, a bag of salad leaves, 2 cucumbers, 4 courgettes and some padron peppers.

So last night I attempted to cook the globe artichokes and the padron peppers, neither of which I have eaten or seen prepared before. Riverford provided us with cooking information for both of them - the artichokes had to have their outer leaves removed, remove the hairy choke with a teaspoon and then boil whole in salted acidulated water for 20-40 minutes. To start with I had no idea how much of the leafy layer to remove, so I went until the leaves turned from dark green to a light greeny-yellow colour and then scraped out the middle. I'm not sure this was quite right as there were still very tough fibrous leaves even after cooking that couldn't be eaten, so should probably have removed more. The middle of the artichoke was good - although it did seem a lot of time and effort and bits you couldn't eat for a very small part of the vegetable! I think this may require further research.

The padron peppers were easier to deal with. You basically fry them whole until the skins are wrinkled and blistered, sprinkle with salt and then eat whole. They were delicious, but incredibly hot and spicy!!! Neither of us could eat as many as we wanted!

And then finally I've turned 3 of the 4 courgettes into 2 courgette loaves - one to freeze and one to take to a friend's house this afternoon.

Added to all this, we went over to Kedleston Hall yesterday for the Derbyshire Food and Craft Fair. Not great weather and not very many people there but the boys managed to pick up a wooden hazel whistle each, I got some lovely gin from these people, and Leigh bought some delicious mayonnaise from these people. Very good for dipping artichole and padron peppers in!

This trip had the added bonus that as National Trust members we then had a visit around Kedleston Hall itself which was amazing. Whay have we not been before? We will definitely be returning.

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