As I look out of the window in my kitchen typing I can see that the sun and slightly warmer temperature has brought the wildlife out in force. Around our bird feeder there are around fifteen garden birds, including blackbirds, a thrush, chaffinches, sparrows and great tits. Three squirrels are also competing for the bird seed and chasing up and down the pole with one hanging upside down on the feeder. I know the squirrels are vermin strictly speaking but I can only admire their agility and cunning.
The warmer weather has also brought the Barn Owl out hunting during the day and we have watched him/her hunting up and down the field at the end of Nethergong. They really are a magnificent sight
I’m crossing my fingers that we’ve seen the last of freezing temperatures at least for a while. We’re desperately waiting for the purple sprouting broccoli to mature in quantity. We’ve managed to find some great Savoy Cabbages though and our little Piccolo tomatoes and button mushrooms are a welcome addition in winter. Lew has also added another bouquet garni as many of you gave such positive feedback the last time we included a bunch of herbs. To keep your bouquet garni fresh longer, just keep it tied in a jug of water on the windowsill. It should last for at least a week.
Recipe 1: Farfalle with Savoy Cabbage and Mozarella – serves 4
75ml extra-virgin olive oil 1/4 pound thinly sliced pancetta
3 tablespoons pine nuts 2 teaspoons chopped thyme leaves
1 garlic clove, minced
1 head of Savoy cabbage (about 1 3/4 pounds)—tough outer leaves discarded, cabbage quartered, cored and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch ribbons
Salt and freshly ground pepper 150ml cup water 2ozs freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 pound farfalle
7 ozs fresh mozzarella, preferably buffalo, cut into 1/2-inch dice
Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a large, deep nonstick pan. Add the pancetta and cook over moderate heat, turning once, until golden, about 5 minutes. Transfer the pancetta to a cutting board and coarsely chop. Strain the fat through a fine sieve; wipe out the skillet and pour the fat back in.
Add the pine nuts to the pan and cook over moderate heat, stirring, until golden, about 3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the nuts to a plate. Add the thyme and garlic to the skillet and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the cabbage and toss to coat with fat. Cover and cook over moderately low heat until wilted, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add the water and Parmesan, cover and cook until the cabbage is tender, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook the farfalle in boiling salted water until al dente. Drain the pasta and shake dry, then return it to the pot. Add the cabbage, mozzarella, pancetta, pine nuts and the remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil and toss until the cheese is slightly melted. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a bowl and serve.
Recipe 2: Colcannon with Poached Egg and Streaky Bacon – serves 4
1.2kg potatoes, peeled and cut into roughly 4cm chunks
1 small green savoy cabbage (about 450g), trimmed and finely shredded
75g butter, cubed
6 rindless smoked streaky bacon rashers, cut into 3cm pieces
6 spring onions, trimmed and finely sliced
125ml double cream
4 large fridge-cold eggs
Flaked sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 Put the potatoes in a large saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 18-20 minutes or until soft enough to mash. Cook the cabbage in a pan of boiling water for about 3 minutes until just tender. Refresh under cold water and drain.
2 Ten minutes before the potatoes are ready, melt 25g of the butter in a large nonstick frying pan and fry the bacon until lightly coloured. Add the spring onions and cabbage to the pan and heat through.
3 Fill a large pan one-third full of water and bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer.
4 Drain the potatoes in a colander then return them to the pan. Mash with the remaining butter, cream and lots of seasoning. Stir the cabbage, bacon and onions lightly into the mash. Keep warm over a very low heat.
5 Crack the eggs carefully into the gently simmering water and poach for 3 minutes. Spoon the colcannon into four warmed dishes. Remove the eggs from the water with a slotted spoon and divide among the heaps of potato. Season and serve.