Monthly Archives: April 2014

Do Raw Nettles Sting?

We have a smoothie monster living in our house.

Everything and anything seems to land in the liquidiser.

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Today’s vitamin packed liquid lunch was pineapple, nettle and spinach. It was a glorious colour but the question was ‘is it going to sting’ There’s definitely a buzzy background to the drink but we’re still here to tell the tale so I guess they don’t if they’re liquidised. The woofas looked very sceptical but they have been here for a couple of weeks by now and are becoming quite adventurous. The smoothie monster convinced them that this was the ultimate way to consume nettles – far more nutritious than soup or tortilla!

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Evicted Garlic

The tunnel in our garden is being planted with seedlings, it’s like an instant garden. The beds are filling up with cute rows of spinach, pak choi, herbs etc . There is also a big bed of garlic and onions that has been growing all winter, none the worse for wear after it’s months of exposure whilst the tunnel was wrecked. There’s a piece of chicken wire attached to the wall behind where they are growing and this is where I plant beans and peas . The borlotti beans are already in and thriving and today I transplanted the sugar snap peas. It was a bit of squeeze to get them in behind the garlic and I ended up picking the back row of garlic to make space.

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The evicted garlic  was a real bonus. I cooked a potato and garlic soup and it was absolutely yum.

If you don’t have baby garlic I’m sure wild garlic would make a great substitute. The woods and lane ways are full of wild garlic at this time of the year

 

Potato and Garlic Soup

1 onion, peeled and chopped

2 stems celery, diced

3 potatoes, peeled and diced

25g butter

25 mls olive oil

about 600mls vegetable stock

8 baby garlic or a large bunch of wild garlic

Melt the butter and olive oil together and then add the onion and celery. Sweat them gently whilst you peel and dice the potato. Stir the potato into the onion and celery, season with salt and black pepper and sautee gently for at least ten minutes. Give the occasional stir so that it doesn’t stick.

Clean up the garlic. peel off the very outer layer, trim the tatty ends of the green part and rinse under the tap.

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Chop the white part of the garlic first and add this to the onion/spud mix. Cook for five minutes then stir in about 600mls of vegetable stock – if the soup is too thick which is likely the consistency can be adjusted at the end. Bring to the boil and simmer for about five minutes. Chop the green part of the garlic and add into the soup. Cook for another couple of minutes then give the soup a brief buzz – I like to have lumpy bits in mine.

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Taste and adjust the seasoning then serve with a swirl of cream, creme fraiche or yoghurt.

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Eggs Galore

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The kitchen window sill is full with baskets and bowls of eggs. The chickens are doing quite some egg laying at the moment. Nineteen eggs today which makes just about an egg a hen. The only hen that’s not laying is Miss Grey who is super broody. She’s my favourite hen. mainly because she survived the fox foray that took out most of her chums. She’s a pretty blue grey and quite gutsy which is why it’s difficult to get her off the nest. I’m thinking about slipping a clutch of eggs under her if she stays put. Unfortunately we have once again eaten all of her eggs – we did that last year too – before we decided she wasn’t going to budge, so there won’t be any mini Miss Greys.

As there’s an egg glut we had a spinach, chive and ricotta sort of tortilla for lunch. Very quick and tasty to make.

 

Serves 4 hungry people

7 eggs

about 500g spinach, washed and thick stems removed

a bunch of chives, chopped

2 cloves garlic

200g fresh ricotta

a knob of butter

2tbs olive oil

salt and pepper

Gather the spinach leaves together, roll them up on the chopping board and cut them into ribbons.

Heat a non stick frying pan, melt the butter, add the olive oil then pile in the spinach.

Sprinkle with a little salt and cook on a medium heat until the spinach wilts down. Peel and chop the garlic and stir into the spinach. Cook for three to four minutes more.

Whisk the eggs together in a bowl, season with salt and pepper.

Tip the spinach into the eggs and stir in the chives and the ricotta. Don’t break ricotta up too much.

Pre -heat the grill

Put the frying pan back on the heat, add a little olive oil then pour in the egg mix. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pan and cook gently for about five minutes. then remove the lid from the pan and pop it under the grill finish cooking on the top side.

Here’s a picture of the piece that we didn’t eat!

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Ortiga Tortilla

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Now that the woofas have discovered that we can eat nettles we have a new culinary craze in our household. They were clearing around the fruit bushes this morning and of course what did they discover? Nettles. Lots of baby ones, which they picked and put into a large flowerpot . Todays lunch is Spanish tortilla with nettles. The Spanish woofa is in charge of  making the basic tortilla – there’s no disputing that they have the best technique- and I am in charge of the nettles which are washed and ready to sneak in with the spuds.

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The potatoes are cooked with garlic in plenty of olive oil and the onions are cooked separately, which is where I sneak in the nettles. When all the veg are cooked the olive oil is drained off and everything is mixed with beaten eggs – six or seven in this case – seasoned with salt and then the mix is slipped back into one of the frying pans. When it’s half cooked the tortilla is inverted onto a plate and flipped over,

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I have to say that we have always cooked our tortillas more but I’m beginning to realise that a ‘prized’ tortilla is slightly wet in the middle.

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If you don’t eat it too quickly it does in fact firm up and cook completely – this is from the residue heat – and it definitely tastes good this way.

We ate it with ‘blond’ coleslaw on the side. The tortilla was delicious but next time for such a fatty tortilla I think we’ll use more nettles. The flavour was there but it was subtle enough.

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Nourishing Nettle Soup

We were planting out onion sets in the garden this morning on a newly dug and composted spot.

It turned out that we had more onions than composted spot and the mission expanded to building a new compost frame so that we could move the top of the next compost and then we could access the prized gold underneath. We – being myself and the Woofas – managed to build the new construction and then we set about putting lots of twiggy bits down the bottom so that air can circulate. First of all we tidied up all the bits under the trees looking for suitable twigs then we spotted the fennel plantation in the chicken run. There were some prize twiggy bits there so we moved in and what did we discover? Lots of new nettles. Yum! What a treat, and funnily enough the chickens are not the least bit interested in these.

We picked the young tops from the nettles and I totally diverted from compost heap building and cooked soup for lunch

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Nettle Soup

nettle tops – 1 litre jug full

1 onion- peeled and chopped

25g butter or 25mls olive oil

2 stems celery- finely chopped

1-2 potatoes- peeled and diced

a handful of spinach

salt and pepper

about 600mls vegetable stock

creme fraiche or cream to serve

Melt the butter in a sauce pan or add the oil. Stir in the chopped onions and celery. When they start to sweat and melt down add the chopped potatoes and a little salt. Cook gently for about ten minutes. Tip the nettles into a large bowl of water and gently sort them out. They won’t sting you if you don’t grab them. Put them into a colander to drain. Give the colander a good shake then stir the nettles into the other vegetables. Cook for a few minutes on a fairly high heat until the nettle tops have wilted. Wash and shred the spinach and stir in. Cook until it wilts then add about 600mls vegetable stock and bring everything to the boil. Cook for 4-5 minutes then buzz and season. Serve with a swirl of cream or creme fraiche.

It’s good to gently cook the potatoes, it gives better flavour but don’t overcook the soup once the nettle tops are in otherwise the soup might end up looking like Gollum juice.

 

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