How I miss the brilliant Kitchen Garden I was lucky to have at our old house. Erik and myself have barely been able to contain our frustration whilst waiting to see how much of our extensive garden was going to be put in the shade by our enormous but beautiful trees.
Well, this is summer, the trees are in spectacular leaf, but luckily, with a bit of delicate pruning and a lot of chopping down of nettles, old spiky dead blackberries and horrendously parasitic ivy which smothered not just plants but concrete posts as well, we have sunlight streaming into the site of our new Kitchen Garden.
So this year we entered into a sort of ‘stop-gap’ era, with temporary structures and odds and ends that have allowed me to grow just a small amount of fruit and vegetables. (That’s apart from my wonderful Asparagus Bed, that I wrote about in an earlier post.)
This is our temporary fruit cage, consisting of Bamboo poles and netting to keep the birds away from our fruits. I found this ingenious cage at Pomona Fruits. Pomona Fruits have a huge selection of fruit bushes, so I chose a selection of Blueberry plants, including (would you believe it) a PINK Blueberry, called ‘Pink Lemonade’, said to be lovely bright pink and incredibly sweet. Will keep you informed on that one. Blueberries have to be planted in Ericaceous Compost, so putting them in pots will do for now, until I can have a small raised bed filled with just Ericaceous Compost.
The other bushes, in pots until our proper fruit cage is made and they can be planted in our soil, are various Redcurrant plants, including a Cordon column ‘Rovada’ and a ‘Jonkheer Van Tets’ bush. And I just had to have 2 of the wonderful pink berry bushes, ‘Gloire de Sablon’. All these came from Pomona Fruits, who have a vast selection of fruit trees, bushes, accessories etc. Well worth a look.
Another useful structure that is helping us out for now is my trusty metal A-frame, that is at present the home for my Strawberries. My favourite ‘Mara du Bois’ (Perpetual). alongside the other French Gourmet Strawberry Selection of Gariguette (Early) and Manille (Mid) which I purchased from my old favourite, Pomona Fruits. According to the information page, these ‘are so fragrant that when in season they perfume the markets in Provence with the most heavenly scent and taste sublime.’ That’s good enough reason for me to have a go with these types of strawberry plants which are doing brilliantly right now.
So, the big question? What am I going to do with all these berries? I have been searching through my hundreds of cook books and scouring Google for Berry Recipes for Red, Pink, Black and Blue Berries and have now come up with some that really appeal to me. Here are just a few of the recipes that I am looking forward to using once my berries are ripe and juicy.
Freeze the prepared lollies overnight.
- 75 g blackberries
- 4 tsb runny honey
- 100 g raspberries
- 50 g red or pink berries
- 300 g flavoured Greek Yoghurt, such as vanilla, honey or coconut
- Using a fork, mash the blackberries and red or pink currants with 2 teaspoons of the honey, then do the same with the raspberries and the remaining 2 teaspoons of honey in a separate bowl or plate.
- Layer alternate spoonfuls of mashed fruits with the yoghurt in plastic shot glasses or an ice lolly mould.
- Add lolly sticks and freeze overnight.
- To serve, dip moulds briefly in warm water then lift out of the moulds and serve.
Because I am growing lots of different soft summer fruits, I'm going to experiment with this Summer Berry Iced Lolly recipe, adding blueberries or strawberries instead of some of the other berries. Looking forward to making these for the grandchildren, and also quenching my thirst on a hot summer's day. Enjoy!
Now for a Classic Summer Berry Sorbet Recipe. Looking forward to this one:
This is a recipe from Angela Boggiano from the BBC Food page. I can't wait to make these Sumer Berry Sorbets with all my fresh summer berries - especially since I have a brand new tall freezer in which to store all my goodies.
- 500 fresh summer fruits
- Juice and grated rind of 1 large orange
- 2 - 3 tbsp orange liqueur (such as Cointreau or Grand Marnier)
- 2 egg whites
- 100 g caster sugar
- Place the fruit, orange rind and juice, liqueur and 175 ml water in a food processor and blend until smooth. You can leave the seeds in if you like, or sieve them out of the mixture if you prefer.
- If you have an ice cream machine, churn the mixture until it starts to freeze. Alternatively pour into a rigid container and freeze, stirring every 30 minutes or so until the ice crystals start to form and it feels slushy.
- Whisk the egg whites until stiff then gradually add the sugar, beating until firm and glossy. Fold the meringue into the freezing fruit mixture and continue to freeze until completely frozen.
- If making in advance, transfer the mixture to the fridge 30 minutes before serving.
The third recipe from James Martin on the Good Food Channel looks so delicious that I want to eat a big slice right now. Have a look.
This gateaux looks incredible, but if you haven't an oval cutter, I'm sure you can improvise with two sponge cakes. We women are good at adapting recipes!
- 1 x 25 cm flan sponge cake
- Orange Liqueur for drizzling
- 450 ml Double Cream (suitable for whipping)
- 1 Vanilla pod, seeds scraped
- 1 handful Raspberries
- 300 gm large Strawberries
- 300 gm mixed berries
- Icing Sugar
- Spun Sugar decoration (Optional)
- Cut the flan into an oval with a large metal oval pastry cutter and slice the sponge lengthways so you have 2 pieces to use as the top and the bottom of the cake.
- Use the oval-shaped pastry cutter to build your cake. Lay the bottom half of your flan in the pastry cutter and drizzle with orange liqueur to taste.
- Whip the cream until thick then add the vanilla seeds and raspberries and mix in gently but well.
- Halve the strawberries, making sure that they are all about the same size. Place around the edge of the tin, with the sliced sides facing outwards.
- Add most of the mixed berries to the middle of the cake. Fill the cake shape with cream and smooth it off with a spatula then put the second sponge oval on top.
- Warm the edges of the tin with a kitchen blowtorch or warm cloth, and release the whole cake gently.
- Dredge with icing sugar and then crosshatch with a hot metal skewer to create a lattice effect on top (see picture above). Decorate with mixed berries and the spun sugar decoration (if you are having a go at this.)
I never realised that there were so many great ‘Recipes for Red, Pink, Black and Blue Berries – Soon to be ready’ – I’m still unpacking my cookware, bakeware and cutters and with each box unpacked my enthusiasm for cooking and baking doubles. Now that I have found my cookware and are once again growing our own food, I am more than happy.