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Update May 2015

After the wonderful April we had in the south of England (see blog published April 27th), the month of May became a bit of a disappointment; the seeds germinated in the greenhouse, but slowly, I can't say they burst into life with vigour, they were more akin to a teenager waking up on a morning; they sort of scratched their heads, looked around bleary eyed and went, whatever... May feels as if it has been more like March rather than almost summer and the last few days did see dreadfully high winds and hard rain.

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Oxtail Stew (Winter Warmer)

This will serve 4 - 6 people. Preparation time is about 20 minutes, and cooking time is 4 to 4 1/2 hours.

This is a deliciously beefy delight which was a regular on tables in the "good old days" when people didn't waste a thing from an animal. Being the tail, it's a similar meat to the cheeks, in that it's a hard working part of the animal in life, therefore, it's tasty when cooked slowly. Given a good strong stock and red wine, the end result is a rich, flavoursome, winter warmer.

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Line caught Cod with our new best friend, Nduja

Nduja which is pronounced (Nd'uja) is a spicy, quite hot sausage from the Calabria area of Italy. It is typically made with parts of the pig such as the shoulder, belly, and jowl/throat, it can also include the innards or tripe, and it is infused with chillies, roasted peppers and a mixture of spices. The people of Calabria view it as a variation of salami, yet it is spreadable, rather like pâté. It originates from the Spilinga area; this is a small town in southern Calabria. It is mainly served on slices of bread or with ripe cheese, however, it can be added to pasta sauces to impart a rich depth and zing to tomato dishes.

This is a simple but delicious meal for 2 using loin fillets of line caught cod, linguine, tomatoes, fennel salami, a beaten egg and the magic ingredient Nduja.

Cod with Nduja

 

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Celery Soup

6-8 short sticks of celery (6-7 Inches / 15-16 cm), finely chopped
½ medium onion finely chopped
1 clove Garlic chopped
2 Spring onions cut at an angle 1 inch long
1 handful of Parsley chopped for dressing
2 pints (1.1 Litre) of chicken stock
Good heaped tablespoon of butter to fry the celery in
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
150 grams (150ml) of pouring cream

Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Put the celery, onion and Garlic into the pan (fig1) and fry until it starts to look translucent; add the stock and allow to simmer until well cooked (fig 2).

Let it cool, then using a stick blender, blend until lump free. Season to taste, I like lots of black pepper in mine.
Warm up the smooth soup, add the spring onions to soften, pour in the cream (fig 3) warm and serve with the Parsley sprinkled on top (fig4).

You can make some croutons by slicing some ciabatta, place in a roasting tin, drizzling Olive Oil over it, sprinkle with salt and place in a medium oven until it turns golden brown.

Figure 1 Figure 2 Figure 3 Figure 4

Steamed Coconut Cake with lime and ginger

This is an unusual way to cook a sponge cake - it is my first attempt and we're quite pleased with the end result.

 

The recipe could be adapted by using lemons or more exotic fruits, be creative!

   Figure 5

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Making Butter

This is a very easy process, requiring little effort, but the results are worth it – I suppose you could view the process as a bit of a workout for your upper arms, if you are so inclined.

All that is required is a 300g (10.1 fl oz) tub of double or heavy cream. You can increase the quantity of cream if you so wish, it's up to you and is dependant on the size of your family or how much butter you go through in a week.

Leave the cream in a bowl for a couple of hours to reach room temp about 72°F (22°C) (Fig 1), this will start the cream acidifying.

Pour the cream into a plastic or sealable jar that has enough room to allow for shaking the liquid up and down. Shake vigorously for about 10 minutes or until the butter has formed.

It will go like whipped cream at first (Fig 2), keep shaking and you will feel it break back into buttermilk and solid butter (Fig 3). The remaining liquid is Buttermilk which can be poured off and saved for baking.

Figure 1 Figure 2 Figure 3

 

Place the butter in a bowl under a gently running cold water tap (Fig 4). Using the back of a metal spoon press the butter in the water stream until all of the buttermilk is expressed and the water runs clear (Fig 5) (using your hands is messy, but quicker).

You can add salt to taste if you wish; you can now put the butter in a small dish and refrigerate (Fig 6). The butter will last about a week, but you will most probably have used it by then.

Figure 4 Figure 5 Figure 6

 

Whilst you may not want to salt your butter, you could add herbs or garlic, you can form the butter into a sausage shape, wrap it in cling film and put it in the freezer; you can then slice sections or disks off as you want it; useful for steaks etc. Imaging the kudos of producing a well cooked steak, with a disk of Parsley butter melting on top of it, and saying "of course I made the butter too". Enjoy.