Garden salad

I love living in England.  I love the way the weather changes with each season and I even love how the weather changes from day to day.  In June, for example, you should really be basking in some warm hazy days.  Of course, we aren’t.  It has rained and rained and been pretty dull for most of June.  April of course was a different matter with blazing sunshine for most of the month (and this from a month famous for its showers).

I love how in the winter in England you can forget that in the summer your house will be so warm that you will want every window open and then in the summer you forget how bloomin’ cold the kitchen was (even with the Aga!) in January.  You can also forget just what a pleasure it is when June comes around to be able to eat pretty much everything on your plate straight out of the garden.

I must add that everything in this picture is out of my parents’ garden ( they are so much more organised with their earlier planting than Mr OC and I).

I was having a dilemma about what to make for dinner.  Then I called at my parents and came away with this lovely bounty.  Some tiny beetroot with their delicious leaves, two types of lettuce leaf, a few baby carrots, a red onion  and the last of the new potatoes out of their greenhouse. What a lucky girl.

I defrosted some bacon, chopped a bit of last year’s garlic, got out the olive oil, the balsamic vinegar and a pack of feta, added some mint, and ended up with this.

It was the perfect celebration of fresh garden produce.

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Bacon and wild garlic spaghetti

The wild garlic season is in full swing here.  It hasn’t flowered yet and the small leaves are beautifully tender and full of that garlic zing.

It grows in great swathes in the shade of the trees.

Last night I made this pasta and a wild garlic bread to go with it.  It was very tasty and full of the essence of spring. Just remember to wash your wild garlic well, you can never be sure how many domesticated and wild animals might have visited the same patch before you ;). Also be sure to have identified it correctly using a hedgerow plants guide.

4 rashers of bacon snipped into bite size pieces
2 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
frozen or fresh peas
handful of wild garlic leaves, sliced
spaghetti (I used 200g for 2 adult  and 2 child size portions)


Bring a large pan of water to the boil and add plenty of salt.  Add the spaghetti and cook until al dente (follow the pack instructions).

Fry the bacon pieces at a high temperature until beginning to brown, add the peas and the crushed garlic cloves and continue to fry but reduce the heat a little to prevent the garlic from burning.  When the spaghetti is cooked ladle a spoonful of the pasta water into the bacon pan and then drain the spaghetti and tip it into the pan.  Add the sliced wild garlic leaves.  Turn everything over to get well covered in the bacon fat and serve in warm dishes.

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Cider cabbage with bacon

This is a recipe inspired by friends and family.  Our friend Pete has a friend, Chris, who produces his own cider on his farm near Ludlow.  Pete describes himself as Chris’ Chief Helper as he often spends his weekends at Farmers’ Markets selling the cider.  He had told us that he was selling it at a market near us, so after years of hearing about this cider we thought it was about time that we gave it a try.  So, off we went and purchased some medium and dry cider.  Now, I am afraid that you can no longer to tempt me to drink cider, (tales of a misspent youth would explain), but I do love to cook with it and Mr OC is more than happy to drink it.

On the way home from the market we called in to see Mr OC’s family and my sister-in-law told me about how she sometimes cooks cabbage and bacon in cider with wholegrain mustard and crème fraîche.  Now this seemed like a very good idea indeed and so this is my take on her recipe, adding a bit of garlic and using the rest of the double cream in the fridge rather than buying some crème fraîche.  It’s a really good way of eating cabbage and I think it would be especially good with roast chicken.  We had it with yorkshire puddings because I had no chicken and I think you can never pass up the opportunity of eating yorkshire puddings.

I only wish the photo had been better and had done the cabbage justice.

1 small cabbage, shredded
4-6 rashers of bacon, snipped into bite-size pieces
100- 150 ml cider (depending on the size of your cabbage)
1-2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp wholegrain mustard
100ml double cream
salt and pepper to taste


Heat a little oil in a large pan over a medium heat and cook the bacon until golden, add the garlic and cook for a minute.  Add the shredded cabbage and stir well.  Add the cider and cover the pan.  Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally until the cabbage is cooked through.  Add the cream and the mustard and stir to combine.  Cook until the cream is bubbling. Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with something to mop up the cidery juices.

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Chicken Bombe

chicken bombe

This recipe is one that my mum often makes.  I will be making it this weekend for my daughter’s fifth birthday party.  Her birthday parties offer us a chance to gather both adults and children and this year we are expecting the usual 60 odd people.  I keep promising myself that I will one year do a birthday tea for her and five friends, but any excuse for a party…
(The pic above is the one I cooked for the party, using twelve rashers of bacon, six sausages and six chicken breasts – 4 on the bottom and 2 on top.  I cooked it for 2¼ hours)
Mum’s Chicken Bombe
This is a really delicious combination. It makes a lovely sunday roast and any left over slices beautifully when cold for sandwiches in the week. It’s chicken, stuffed with sausage meat and sage and onion stuffing and then wrapped in bacon.
4 chicken breasts
4 sausages
6-8 rashers of middle bacon
Breadcrumbs (2-3 thick slices)
1 onion
1 dessertspoon dried sage or about 8 fresh leaves
1 egg
salt and pepper

Kitchen string 4 long lengths
Make the stuffing by placing all of the stuffing ingredients in a food processor and process until combined.
Lay the string horizontally on a board and lay the bacon rashers vertically on top of the string.  Place two chicken breasts on top of the bacon.  Squeeze the sausage meat out of the skins and spread evenly over the chicken and spread the stuffing evenly on top of the sausage meat.  Place the remaining two chicken breasts on top and then bring the bacon rashers up over the chicken trying to cover it all and secure by wrapping the string over and tying securely.

Place onto a roasting tray and sprinkle with olive oil.  Roast in a preheated oven at 180°c (350°f, Gas Mark 4) for 1½hour.  Check that the chicken is thoroughly cooked by piercing with a skewer and if the juices run clear then it’s cooked.

Leave to rest for 15 mins before slicing if serving hot and if serving cold then leave to cool and refrigerate until ready to slice.  You can make it a day ahead.

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