Nettle tops (Urtica dioica) foraged from the end of the garden. They are best picked before the flowers appear as they become coarser. Nettles are said to beat spinach and broccoli for vitamins and minerals. They were used as a tonic and various health benefits are claimed.
These were washed, drained then microwaved for 3 minutes and served with roast potatoes and chicken that had been marinaded with smoked garlic, ginger and soy sauce. Like spinach the nettles made quite a bit of green liquid. They tasted milder than spinach.
They didn't sting as the hot water inactivates that. There was a residual warm effect which may have been the nettles or the chilli and ginger with the chicken. Mr Raspberryandchipotle suspects the nettles.
For more information and recipes from Hugh Fearnly-Wittingstall click here
Our first experience of a Viennese coffee house was at Heiners in Karntnerstrasse. I had truffle torte with a cup of melange. A melange is similar to a cappuccino but creamier and in Vienna is served with a glass of water. The truffle torte was the best I had in Vienna and all the coffees were good.
At the cafe at Sconbrunn palace I had an apple strudel with a melange.
Several times a day on the hour there is a demonstration showing how an apple strudel is made.
Sacher torte at the Cafe at the Spanish Riding School
Plum streusel cake at the hotel breakfast.
Cafe Central in Herrengasse (below) dates back to 1876 At the turn of the 20C it was frequented by Sigmund Freud.
I get lots of unripe figs from my tree and look for different ways to use them. The first recipe I found to use them was for candied figs. Rachel tried the recipe then came up with another idea. She comes from Sri Lanka and preserves vegetables in a hot spicy pickling paste so had the idea of trying it with some figs and it works well.
Pickled Figs in a Sri Lankan pickling paste
200g unripe figs cut the figs into quarters and boil for 15 min, leave to cool, replace the water, repeat this process and drain the figs.
200g shallots and 10-15 green chillies, blanch for 5 min then dry on a paper towel
3 cloves garlic crushed
1tsn grated ginger
1 125g jar mustard
1 tsp chilli powder
1/4 tsp salt
Mix all the pickling
ingredients in with the other ingredients and bottle in sterile jars.
4 oz butter at room temperature
2 large eggs
4 1/2 oz SR flour
1 1/2 oz polenta
2 tsp baking powder
1-2 tbs milk
Juice and finely grated rind from 1 lemon
More sugar to taste.
Tip Microwave the lemon on medium for 10-20 secs to get more juice out
Wizz up the sugar butter and eggs in a food processor
Fold in the flour, polenta, lemon zest and baking powder
Mix in the milk to soften the consistency and spoon out into cup cake cases.
Bake at gas 5 till risen and golden.
Pour the lemon juice evenly over the cakes and sprinkle with sugar to taste.
If you prefer it sweeter mix the lemon juice with sugar first.
1. The Wormery
Kitchen waste, grass clippings and paper go into the top layer and the worms start to munch. The bottom of the top 3 layers is a fine mesh so the worms can travel between levels and the munchings go through to the layer below.
Once in the second layer below the worms continue to munch. The munchings from that layer end up in layer three as very fine compost. Layer four fills with a dark brown liquid. There is a tap to access it. It is a liquid plant feed that is diluted 1 part to 10 parts water. It's like Guinness for tomatoes, probably even puts hairs on their chests.
Hurry up and ripen!
2. The Compost Bins
Most of the compost-able materials goes into the compost bins. A mix of kitchen vegetable waste, grass cuttings, prunings and hedge cuttings that have been gone over with the lawn mower. To this is added paper and cardboard from those nice boxes that Amazon sends. this keeps the balance of nitrogen and carbon about right, hopefully. The worms help out here too but it much slower than in the wormery. It needs regular turning to speed things up. It's lucky if it gets turned over once in the space of a year but it gets there eventually. Even if if's a bit coarse it's usable as a mulch or mixed with John Innes 3 for growing tomatoes. The last photo shows a much finer grain compost that has had even longer.
I had a lovely meal with my friend Ann on Wednesday. We went to Galvin at Windows on the 28th floor of the Park Lane Hilton. It has a lot of big windows and panoramic views over London. Our table faced towards Hyde Park, the Serpentine and the Royal Albert Hall.
We both chose the same starter and main course but went for different desserts, all very good. The sea bream was good and served with black rice rich with flavours.
Desserts were followed by some 'real chocolates' and a jar of soft and fluffy marshmallows. The green ones were flavoured with apple and the orange ones with passion fruit, in my enthusiasm to try them I forgot about photos. We and the sweets moved to a comfy sofa in the bar, overlooking Buckingham Palace and gardens.