Sunday, 20 September 2015

Royal Berkshire Show

I've been going to the Royal Berkshire Show (or the Newbury Show as I still call it) each year since I met my wife, who grew up within turnip throwing distance of the show ground. It is both a full on agricultural show with judging of cattle, sheep, pigs, chickens etc, show jumping, mad axe wielding maniacs and a market catering to the people of the M4 corridor. The latter includes a large craft tent with everything from grandfather clocks to ocarinas via silver jewellery, ceramics and pretty much everything else you can imagine (though thankfully the didgeridoo seller has moved on! There is also a huge farm food tent which as you can imagine is my favourite part (well apart from the otter pond!).

The farm food tent contains numerous stalls selling local (and not so local) produce. I use this as an opportunity to fill the freezer with fine cuts of meat from a butcher from Devon, my store cupboard with herbs and spices, flavoured oils and vinegars, marmalades and chutneys and the occasional kitchen gadget!

This year the weather was warm and sunny, though to be honest we have rarely had a bad day weather wise in the past twenty or so years, and the sun glinting on the steam engines and the haywain  in the vintage farming display was glorious.

Now it's time to carry out the last few harvests of my own in the garden. It's been a good year for courgettes, runner beans and tomatoes. The apple trees are laden with fruit though the plum didn't do so well this year nor did the rhubarb. We also need to make some space under the plum tree for the bench we bought at the show which will be delivered some time in the next couple of weeks.

Here's a few photos to give you a feel of the day.
Clear Round

Raising Steam
Bringing the Harvest Home

Wednesday, 18 February 2015


Simple stuffed pancakes for supper last night. Felt very full afterwards, worth the effort.

Ingredients for the filling
1 small bag of baby spinach
2 medium leeks finely shredded
150g chestnut mushrooms finely sliced
100g grated Emmental or similar cheese

50g butter
Salt, Pepper and Nutmeg to season

Make four pancakes in the normal fashion and put aside while you make the filling

Sweat the leeks in a pan with the butter until softened, add the mushrooms and fry again until softened. Add the bag of spinach and stir till wilted. Add the grated cheese, seasoning and nutmeg and stir together.

Put a 1/4 of the filling in each of the pancakes and fold into a triangle. Put in an oven-proof dish, grate some more cheese on top and grill until browned.

Saturday, 31 January 2015

Not Quite a Cock-a-Leekie Soup

Gosh it's been ages since I last wrote a post. I haven't stopped cooking (and I certainly haven't stopped eating) but just haven't got around to writing up my creations. New Year - new resolution to try and post at least once a month.

Sleety, grey skies and a biting north wind and the need to have something warm and satisfying to eat before movie night turned thoughts towards a sturdy soup. A loaf of freshly made bread cooling in the kitchen with some nice cheeses went very well along side it. It started off as being a cock-a-leekie soup but as there is more leek than chicken I was going to call it Leekie-Cockie but that didn't sound very appetising...

Serves 3 with bread and cheese on the side.

3 Medium Leeks, trimmed and sliced
1 Medium Carrot, finely diced
1 Chicken thigh, skinned and diced
1/2 Small Green Cabbage, finely shredded
5g Dried Porcini Mushrooms
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1 Bay Leaf
1 Handful of Pearl Barley
1 Litre Chicken or Vegetable stock

Sweat off the leaks and carrots with the bay leaf until softened but not coloured.
Add the chicken, stock, pearl barley and dried mushrooms.
Bring to the boil and simmer for 30-45 minutes or until the barley is cooked.
Check seasoning - depending on your stock you may not need any.
Add the shredded cabbage and simmer for another 5 minutes.