More lovely dry weather and we can say now that most of the site will be ready for our first busy weekend at Easter. We still have lots of capacity from 3rd April so if any of you are hardy campers, just go to the www.nethergongcamping.co.uk website and you can book online. Tell me that you’re a veg box customer when you arrive and you’ll get a discount.
We had a trial run this past weekend when my friends daughter stayed in the Romany Wagon on Saturday night. It was her daughter’s sixth birthday and our grandchildren joined them for treasure hunts and tree climbing. The sun was shining although there was a sharp wind and the first frogs of the season were caught!
News on the hatching front is that the swans have finally taken up residence on the island, using the ramp that Dan built specially to assist them and their cygnets on and off the island. We expect first cygnets towards the end of April! All the resident ducks have paired off and we have high hopes of ducklings again this year.
The polytunnel is coming along nicely and I should be planting the first seedlings out into beds in the next week or two. We just need the nights to stay warm to help them along.
In your boxes……………….
We’ve managed to get plenty of Steve Parsley’s spinach this week so everyone can have some. I use spinach in lots of recipes and this week made a delicious spinach and smoked salmon quiche for lunch. The recipe was so good I’ve shared it!
We are still making hay while the sun shines with the wild garlic which will be over soon. If you are struggling to use it just blitz it into pesto and it will keep for weeks in the fridge.
Recipe 1: Smoked Salmon and Spinach Quiche – serves 6-8
225 (8oz) plain flour, plus extra to dust
75 (3oz) butter, cut into pieces
125 (4oz) spinach
200 (7fl oz) crème fraîche
2 medium eggs, beaten
100 (31⁄2oz) smoked salmon trimmings
25 (1oz) Parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to 200°C (180°C fan oven) mark 6. Put a baking sheet in the oven. For the pastry, put the flour, butter and a pinch of salt into a food processor. Whiz briefly until it resembles breadcrumbs. Add 3-4tbsp cold water and whiz briefly again to form a soft dough.
Roll out on a surface lightly dusted with flour until large enough to line a 23cm (9in) fluted flan tin. Press into the tin, prick the base with a fork and chill for 30min. Line with greaseproof paper and fill with baking beans. Put on the hot baking sheet and bake for 10min. Remove the paper and beans, and bake for a further 10-15min.
Meanwhile, wilt the spinach leaves in a pan with a little boiling water for 1min. Refresh under cold water and drain well. Put into a large bowl and add the crème fraîche, eggs and the smoked salmon. Season and stir well. Spoon into the pastry case. Grate over the Parmesan and bake for 25min until set and golden. Serve with baked potatoes and salad.
Recipe 2: Spinach and Pea Frittata – serves 4
1 medium onion
1 tbsp oil (vegetable or olive oil), plus extra for greasing
100g frozen peas
80g mature cheddar
8 medium free-range eggs (see tip)
200g spinach, wilted for 1 minute, then plunged into cold water and thoroughly drained.
Finely grated zest and juice 1 lemon
1 tsp chilli flakes (optional)
Heat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/ gas 6. Finely chop the onion. In a large frying pan, heat the 1 tbsp oil. Add the chopped onion and gently fry for 5 minutes, then add the frozen peas and cook for another 5 minutes. Grate the cheese.
In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs. Stir in the onion and pea mix along with the wilted spinach, lemon zest and juice, chilli flakes (if using) and 50g of the grated cheese. Season with salt and pepper.
Grease a 20cm baking dish or tin with oil, then pour in the frittata mixture and sprinkle over the remaining 30g grated cheese. Bake for 25-30 minutes until set and golden
We’ve had more spring weather this week and our chickens have started laying well. We only have four chickens now and a young cockerel but we regularly get two to three eggs a day from them. We’re contemplating taking more chickens so if anyone knows of any that need ‘rescuing’ let me know.
We’ve still got loads to do before the camping starts on 3rd April. We can’t remember when the ground was so dry this early in the season. Its still wet of course, but not sodden as its been in past March’s. We have a busy Easter Weekend coming up and need at least two thirds of the site to be campable. We’re also having a huge stocktake of bedding and other paraphernalia for the glamping Bell Tents and Wagons. It’s a little difficult to gear yourself up for a long season after a lazy winter!
The polytunnel has had a huge clean up and I can now see my potting bench. It’ll be time to plant some of my bean seeds this week. My young tomatoes are doing well and the aubergines have just sprouted. Hopefully, I’ll have a little more time to spend with my veg this summer
In your boxes…………………….
Steve Parsley at Walmestone has given us the first radishes of the season this week. With Tanya’s spring onions and more secret Wild Garlic there’s a very spring-like feel to the boxes.
Recipe 1: Wild Garlic and Potato Soup – serves 3-4
couple of handfuls of wild garlic leaves
2 medium-sized potatoes
800 ml of chicken or vegetable stock
salt & pepper
Melt the butter in your soup pot. Roll the leaves, cigar-fashion, and then slice across into strips. Add them to the pot and put the lid on. Let them soften in the butter while you peel and chop the potatoes into cubes. When the leaves are wilted add the potatoes and the stock. Bring up to the boil, then simmer for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are really soft. If you like, add a spoonful of cream and liquidize the soup.
Recipe 2 – Spring Onion Fritatta (Hugh F-W’s) – serves 2 for dinner
3 tbsp rapeseed oil
3 slices streaky bacon, cut into roughly 2cm pieces
250g potatoes, cooked, cooled and cut into small chunks
1 large bunch spring onions (about 250g); keep back a couple for the top of the frittata, and roughly chop the rest
6 eggs, lightly beaten
50g parmesan, or hard goat's cheese, grated
2-3 tbsp parsley, finely chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4. Warm two tablespoons of the oil over a medium heat in a 25cm nonstick frying pan (with an oven-proof handle, ideally, though you can always transfer everything into a stoneware or cast-iron gratin dish later). Fry the bacon until just crisp, then tip it into a bowl, keeping as much fat in the pan as possible.
Sauté the potatoes in the bacony fat until they take on a bit of colour, stir in the chopped spring onions, fry for a minute or two, then tip into the bowl with the bacon. Stir the eggs into the mixture, then add two-thirds of the cheese and the parsley. Season generously, and leave to sit for a couple of minutes while you prepare the whole spring onions.
Pour the remaining tablespoon of oil into the frying pan and over a medium-low heat fry the six whole spring onions until softened and slightly caramelised. When done, transfer these to a plate.
Tip the eggy mixture into the same frying pan (or into a lightly greased gratin dish, if your frying pan isn't suitable for the oven), arrange the whole spring onions over the top and sprinkle over the rest of the cheese. Turn the heat under the pan to low and don't move the ingredients about - just let the eggs solidify slowly from the base up. After about five minutes, give the pan a little shake: you should be able to see that the bottom half of the frittata is set while there's a good layer of wet egg on top. Bake for about 10 minutes until puffed up and golden, and allow to cool for a few minutes before cutting
Recipe 3: Roast Lamb with Wild Garlic Butter – serves 2
If you’re cooking lunch for your Mother this Sunday, try making some Wild Garlic butter to go with the Roast Lamb!
2 spring onions
30g garlic leaves
80g butter at room temperature
a little olive oil
2 large lamb fillets
Set the oven at 220C/gas mark 7. To make the butter, chop the onions and most of the garlic leaves quite finely. Mash them into the butter, grinding in a little salt and black pepper as you go. Warm a little oil in a roasting tin and lightly brown the lamb fillets. This shouldn't take more than a minute or two over a high heat. Spread the garlic-leaf butter over the fillets on both sides. Place the reserved garlic leaves around and over the lamb. Roast in the preheated oven for 25 minutes. Leave to rest, covered with foil, for 10 minutes then carve into thick pieces with any juices from the pan.
Finally, a Happy Mother’s Day to all our hard working mothers!