Very promptly I received a reply from the Allotment Grower's Association thanking me for my application and telling me that I was number 25 on the waiting list. They also added that number 1 on the waiting list had been there for 7 years.
I think that is Allotment Grower's Association code for 'Forget it, loser!'
So, for the next 175 years I will have to content myself with my pots of herbs and salad leaves on the windowsill and fire escape- and my local Pick Your Own farm.
It's not so bad- we are coming into peak season for all sorts of fruit and veg- strawberries, broad beans, tomatoes, last of the asparagus, peas, tayberries, gooseberries, rocket and salad leaves, spinach, rhubarb..you name it, it's out there.
So, plastic punnet in hand, I've sought out some seasonal foraging to make this week's menu.
Starter is an onion tart with tapenade (and a herb salad), followed by poulet printanier ( spring chicken) and finished with Eton Mess.
For the tart, you need to make onion jam first. Finely slice 4 small or 2 large onions and soften in some butter and olive oil. Add 1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar, 1 glass red wine, 2 teaspoons of sugar and 1/2 of salt. Boil until the liquid begins to reduce, and then cover with a lid and cook on a low heat until the onions have absorbed everything and have become a soft and spreadable mush.
Spread tapenade (black olive and anchovy paste) over the base of a pastry case and then spread on 2/3 of the onion jam over the top.
(Keep the remaining third as a relish for cold meat, burgers or steak sandwiches). Pour over two beaten eggs and a good grating of cheese, decorate with a few black olives and then bake in a moderate oven (180 degrees) for 20-30 minutes until golden brown and firm to the touch. This is a kind of version of a pissaladiere (an onion and anchovy slice from Nice- so you could make it with a pizza base rather than a pastry one if you preferred, or with a rectangle of puff pastry too).
|Onion and Tapenade Tart|
I served it with a salad made from stuff I grow in pots- rocket, chives and 'living leaves'.
Main course celebrates all sorts of good things about early summer- broad beans, peas, new potatoes and asparagus- all cooked in a one-pot dish with chicken.
|Broad beans a-sleeping in a blankety bed!|
Brown some chicken thighs and drumsticks in a little oil and place to cook through for 30-40 minutes in the oven (190 degrees). Meanwhile, shell some broad beans and cook lightly for 5 minutes in boiling water. Set some asparagus stalks to steam over the top. Toss some cooked new potatoes in the oil from the roasting chicken in a wok or deep frying pan. Add the chicken pieces to the potatoes. Deglaze the roasting tin with a glass of vermouth or white wine and a large glass of water and pour over the chicken and potatoes.Mix in 2 teaspoons of mustard and a tablespoon of creme fraiche. Add the broad beans, a handful of peas and the asparagus. Simmer until thickened a little and serve garnished with chopped chives. It needs nothing more than a slice of crusty bread with it.
For dessert, I have made an Eton-ish Mess. My version uses ice cream rather than whipped cream.
Chop some strawberries and add them to the ice cream when you are ready to eat, pour over some cream or creme de cassis.
And for the leftovers, as I suggested, the onion jam makes a great addition to a steak sandwich or burgers. (It will keep for 2-3 days in the fridge.)
|Steak sandwich with onion jam|
I know a lot of you grow your own veg- I'm looking forward to tasting aubergines from la Barbe, and stuffed chili peppers from Steve D- and I do envy you. Send me some pics and some recipes if you can.
|Ah! If only I could!|