Friday, 9 July 2010

Lemon balm wine

This one of my favourite wines of all time; the plant grows brilliantly in my garden, so there's always a lot to harvest over the sumer. The best time to pick for wine is before the plant flowers, and in the middle of the day when the leaves are quite dry and the heat has maximised the volatile oils. It's a lovely job on a hot ummer day for the scent alone :)

1 pint of balm leaves, no stalk
1 gallon hot water (not boiling)
1 lemon, sliced thinly
1 teabag
2 1/2/lbs sugar
1 good tbsp of your chosen yeast - I use dried yeast

Place everything in a bucket, stir to dissolve sugar; cover and leave in a warm place for 4 -5 days, then strain, put into a demi-john and ferment out. Bottle and leave at least six months. Drink very cold.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Playing gooseberry.............

Gooseberry time here - I topped and tailed about 4 -5 lbs yesterday morning. I grow three varieties - one yellow, one green and one red, about 6 bushes in all. Very generous with their harvests, they're one of my favourite fruits for bottling - ready for straight into the pie or crumble dish; sweet, tart, delicious and full of goodness all at once. I still have a couple of pounds or so left to pick, so some gooseberry wine might be made too, and some gooseberry curd, which is really good.
I might need to sort out some more room in the garden to put in a couple more varieties - search out some of the old ones that need to be kept going; I remember reading about societies that held gooseberry competitions, where huge fruits were pitted against each other for prizes and glory. I think this still hapeens further up the country, I'll need to do a bit of research and find out I think - would be lovely to re-instate more things like that, make people proud of what they grow and eat :)

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Homemade pasta

I made canneloni for supper tongiht - anyone else get *SO* fed up trying to spoon the filling into those tiny bought tubes that just break when you do it, then taste of nothing when they're cooked? Here's the answer!
I use the proepr pasta flour as I am able to find it fairly easily; however, good plain flour works fine too I've found. I have a pasta machine I use for rolling thin sheets for sutting into tagliatelle etc, but for sheets for lasagne and canneloni, I just roll out with the rolling pin.
When cooked, you can actually taste the pasta, it makes a huge difference to the finished dish, I can assure you. Any extra freezes well, so you could make a big batch, divide and freeeze it to keep you going for a while.
Various things can be added - spinach, pureed nettles, tomato puree etc.
This batch took 7 minutes from start to finish and is very easy to make.

10 oz of pasta or plain flour
3 large eggs
generous tablespoon of oil - olive, vegetable, walnut etc
cold water to mix if required

Mix it all together and knead gently until smooth. That's it ! Roll out and use as required.
For tagliatelle, cut into strips and hang over the back of a chair until needed.

Monday, 5 July 2010

Summer in a bowl..........

I'd rather have raspberries over strawberries any day, and home grown over shop bought. However, nothing comes close to sun-warmed raspberries straight from your own patch, a sprinkling of sugar to get the juices running and a topping of lightly whipped cream :)
Roll on supper time.............

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Strawberry jam

Here is my completely reliable bombproof strawberry jam recipe for sharing:

4lbs strawberries
3 1/2 lbs granulated sugar
juice of 1 1/2 lemons

Hull the berries and put half of them into a jam pan and crush them. Add the rest of the berries, the sugar and the lemon juice. Put over a low heat and leave until sugar is completely and thoroughly dissolved. Turn up heat, bring to a rolling boil and get to setting point. Remove from heat and leave for 10 minutes, put your jars in the oven to heat, then pot up and seal, label etc as you wish.