cookbook review: New urban Farmer, Celia Brooks Brown

First impressions of this part gardening, part cook book were very positive. The book is full of stunning, brightly coloured photographs of Celia’s allotment, vegetables and recipes.

The book is divided in to the four seasons and takes you through the full gardening year providing advice on what jobs need doing when, which vegetables to plant and suggesting recipes to cook with the crops in season each month.

Celia has her own allotment in London and this book is about a year on that plot and what she has learnt. I only have a very small area for planting, a small raised bed and room for a few containers but the book offers advice and encouragement for growing your own in your garden and in containers as well as on allotments. For each month there is a useful 2 page table of all the veg you can harvest and sow that month. It includes information on which ones are suitable for containers and points you in the direction of recipes in the book using each vegetable.

The recipes are simple and the photo’s make your mouth water just looking at them. I particularly like the look of warm courgette salad with parmesan crackling, allotment bbq platter with two sauces and the chocolate upright pear cake.

I for one can not wait until March (where the book starts the new gardening year) to get started on my own small veg plot. I can see this book being a well used book in both the garden and the kitchen.

Thanks to Quadrille publishing for sending me this book to review.
paperback, £14.99
ISBN: 978-1-84400817-9

GYO: Smoked salmon and mangetout risotto

Just before going on holiday I picked my first crop of mangetout from my garden. It was only a small bowl full but even so I was pleased that I would be able to eat something that I had grown myself.
I decided I wanted to cook them as part of a dish where they would really shine instead of just cooking them and serving them as a side to meat or fish.Risotto came to mind and I thought I would combine them with some smoked salmon. The result was a dish that was both delicious and colourful. The mangetout added a crunchy texture and complemented the salmon well.
Smoked salmon and mangetout risotto

Serves 2
Olive oil
small onion, peeled and thinly diced
stick of celery, thinly diced (optional)
1 garlic glove, peeled and thinly chopped
150-200g Arborio rice
Good splash of dry white wine
Approximately 600ml Chicken stock
Zest and juice of half a lemon
Good handful of fresh mangetout sliced into pieces roughly 1-2cm thick
3 Smoked salmon slices cut into small strips
Salt and pepper

  • Heat the stock in a small saucepan.
  • Heat a good splash of olive oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Once hot add the onion and celery and sweat (with the lid on), stirring occasionally until soft but not brown (5-10 mins).
  • Add the garlic and lemon zest and cook for a few minutes, again stirring frequently.
  • Add the rice and turn up the heat. Stir to coat the rice (from here on you need to stir much more frequently to stop the rice sticking or burning and also to release the starch to make it deliciously creamy).
  • You should notice the rice become translucent and at this point you need to add the wine and continue to stir.
  • Once the wine has been absorbed by the rice, add the first ladle of stock and turn the heat back down to medium. Keep stirring.
  • Once this ladle of stock has been fully absorbed by the rice, add another ladle, stir and repeat until the rice is cooked.
  • Add the mangetout strips to the pan after a couple of ladles of stock have been absorbed, stir well. You can add the mangetout later if you like them really crunchy or sooner if you like them well cooked.
  • Once the rice is cooked, remove from the heat, stir in the lemon juice and smoked salmon, season to taste.

I have decided to submit this post to July’s Grow your own round-up founded by Andrea’s Recipes and this month hosted by Amy of Playing House.

June – Whats in season?

The weather it the UK is glorious sunshine at the moment and it really feels like the start of summer. We’ve eaten most of our meals outside for the last few days as well which is a very plesant change. The variety of fresh fruit and vegetables in season now in the UK is rapidly increasing. The pictures are of the few vegetables and herbs I’ve chosen to grow in my small back garden. These were taken a week ago and alread the mangtout are twice as tall!

Sources used to put this list together:

Sainsbury’s Magazine May (& there 2009 recipe calendar).
Eat the seasons
What’s in season?
River cottage seasonal guide – The Guardian

June

Vegetables: Asparagus, Aubergines, Beetroot, broad beans, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Carrots, Courgettes, Cucumbers, Fennel, Globe artichokes, Green beans, Jersey Royals, Kohlarabi, Lettuce, Mangtout, Mint, Parsley, Peas, Pea shoots, Peppers, Radishes, Runner beans, Rocket, Salad leaves, Samphire, Tomatoes, Watercress,

Fruit: Cherries, Elderflowers, Gooseberries, Passion fruit, Raspberries, Redcurrents, Rhubarb, Strawberries, Tayberries.

Seafood: Crab, Cuttlefish, Dover sole, Grey mullet, Hake, Lemon sole, Lobster, Mackerel, Monkfish, Plaice, Pollack, Prawns, Salmon, Sea bream, Whitebait

Meat: Duck, Welsh Lamb

Back in the kitchen…………

and the garden!

Its been a busy few weeks and consequently the blog has suffered but I’ve just had 2 days off work and as well as relaxing I have been back in the kitchen (and also the garden). I’ve also joined twitter so anyone who is interested feel free to follow me (purelyfood).

I started my day off yesterday by making a batch of bagels and enjoyed one fresh from the oven with cream cheese sat in the sunshine. For our eveing meal I tried out my first recipe from Bill Granger’s latest cookbook – feed me now! It was his baked chicken with potatoes, green olives and lemon and it was delicious (by far the best dish I have cooked in sometime) – expect a blog of this recipe later today or certainly in the next few days. Today I’m in the middle of making olive and pumpkin seed bread from Andrew Whitely’s Bread matter’s. If it works out well you can expect a post on that soon too. Cross your fingers though as I haven’t had any sucess with any of the other breads I have tried that involve any length of fermenting (eg ciabatta or sourdough). Mine always end up too wet and runny.

I have also spent some time in the garden today, planting some seeds. We tried growing our own last summer and grew some herbs, salad leaves and mangtout. It was a reasonable sucess apart from the snails! so we’re trying again this year. We have very little space so only grew in a few pots last year. This year we have emptied the only small area of planting the garden has and are trying to grow more veg. So far I have sowed (some directly outside and some in seed trays on my kitchen window sill) herbs, salad leaves, mangtout, spring onions and courgettes. If space allows I would also like to plant some beetroot and another type of climbing bean/pea.