Recipe: Bramble jelly

At this time of year, we seem to fall into two camps: those who aren’t quite ready to let go of summer: of ice lollies, bare feet on hot sand, BBQs and picnics, Pimms in the park; and those who are longing for the soothing arrival of autumn and its promise of hot chocolate and crumpets and crumbles, cosy nights in with box sets, crunchy-leaf-walks and woolly cardigans. If pressed, I would probably have to say that I fell into the latter category (autumn is the introverts’ season, after all).
Continue reading “Recipe: Bramble jelly”

Your guide to foraging for blackberries

WHEN TO GO BLACKBERRYING
We often think of blackberries as an autumn fruit, but in the UK, they can in fact be found from July – certainly in warmer areas like cities – until mid- or even late-September in the countryside.

WHERE TO LOOK
Blackberries can be found all over: parks, heaths, footpaths, towpaths, and even industrial wasteland – sometimes the finest bounty can be found in the most unexpected, neglected place. The excellent map on the Falling Fruit website might help you to find your local patch (select ‘Rubus’ in the filter). Or if you want to share a good foraging spot, you can add it to the map.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR
You want glossy, dark berries. The plumper they are, the sweeter and tastier they are likely to be. The fruit you want will come away from the bush easily when you give it a little tug; if the berry resists, it’s probably not ready to be picked just yet.

WHAT TO AVOID
Steer clear of blackberries that are green or red, as they are not yet ripe. If a berry is dull in colour or if the drupelets (the little round segments that a blackberry is made up of) are a bit shrivelled, it has probably gone over. Don’t pick berries from beside a busy road as they will likely be tainted by car fumes. And definitely avoid any fruit that is in the ‘dog wee’ zone! That’s usually the lowest couple of feet of the bush.

COVER UP
Brambles are spiky! It’s best to cover up your arms and legs to avoid any nasty scratches. Jeans and a hoodie are ideal. Practical, protective footwear is a must. Avoid wearing anything that might snag, like wool.

LOOK OUT FOR CREEPY CRAWLIES
Brambles are often home to spiders and other bugs. Keep an eye out for webs – reaching for a tempting berry only to find that you’ve just plunged your hand onto a huge spider is a real joy-killer.

MAKE FRIENDS WITH A TALL PERSON
The biggest, ripest blackberries are often just a little out of reach! Go foraging with your tallest friend to get the pick of the bunch 😉

AND MOST IMPORTANTLY…
Remember the golden rule for foragers: never take all of the produce from one particular spot. Take a few berries and then move on, to ensure that plenty is left for the people who come after you.

IMG_3844

WHAT NEXT?
When you get home, give your blackberries a gentle rinse and use them as soon as you can (we can all learn from Seamus Heaney here). They also freeze well; after washing, spread the berries out on a baking tray lined with baking parchment and pop into the freezer. Once they’re frozen solid, you can move them into a storage container until you need them.

There are so many delicious recipes for blackberries. Why not try my absolute favourite here (it won a prize!)? And keep an eye out for more blackberry recipes coming to the blog very soon.

Happy foraging!

Recipe: Cornmeal pancakes with lemon curd and blueberry compote

I’ve wanted to try making cornmeal pancakes since being introduced to them as part of a really delicious brunch at Cookshop in New York a few years ago. After a morning walking the nearby High Line, I enjoyed a stack of drop scone-style pancakes, flecked with red chilli and sandwiched together with zingy lemon curd. When I recreated this dish, I wasn’t quite brave enough to include the chilli, but kept the lemon curd and added blueberry compote.
Continue reading “Recipe: Cornmeal pancakes with lemon curd and blueberry compote”

Recipe: Green and bean broth {a soup for summer}

Here in England, we’re in the throes of high summer. Sunny days and balmy nights, picnics, Pimm’s, the occasional thunderstorm, and a whole load of gorgeous produce to relish while the season lasts. I’ve been loving my weekly organic All British Veg Box from Abel & Cole (not #spon, I just think they’re great!), and the recent plethora of fresh, green goodies inspired this recipe: a riff on minestrone with a summery twist, light and filling, and so quick and easy to cook.

Continue reading “Recipe: Green and bean broth {a soup for summer}”

Recipe: Minestrone soup

I’m not sure there could be a heartier, more warming soup than this one. This filling concoction, so substantial it’s bordering on stew territory, is perfect for these midwinter days: filling, comforting, and packed with goodness to help balance out all those mince pies and glasses of prosecco.

IMG_3736[1]
Continue reading “Recipe: Minestrone soup”

Recipe: Banana and peanut butter loaf {teatime favourite!}

You can’t go wrong with a good banana loaf. This is the simplest banana bread recipe I’ve come across, with the classic equal ratio of butter, sugar and flour plus two eggs. Perfect as a teatime treat, or an easy weeknight pud with a handful of berries. It’s super adaptable, too – I’ve included a tasty swirl of peanut butter here, but you could try throwing some chocolate chips into the mixture before cooking, or studding the top with some pecans; or how about drizzling with an icing sugar and water glaze once it’s cooled and decorating with some banana chips or, my current favourite (a gift from Canada!): maple sugar chunks. Serve with a cuppa.
Continue reading “Recipe: Banana and peanut butter loaf {teatime favourite!}”

Recipe: Ajvar and courgette tart

A new recipe for you! I’ve been working on this one for a while, initially trying individual tarts – but they were a bit fiddly, and who wants to faff about with mini tarts anyway when you can throw together a big slab of pastry topped with gorgeousness?! This makes a super quick and very easy midweek supper and comes together in less than half an hour.
Continue reading “Recipe: Ajvar and courgette tart”

Recipe: Back to your roots soup

Hello, and a rather belated happy new year! Sorry it’s been quiet on the blog front for the past few weeks. January was a bit of a whirlwind of changes at work, getting to grips with driving lessons (yup, learning for the first time aged 29…!), and wedding venue hunting (James and I got engaged over Christmas, yay!). Throw Veganuary into the mix, and blogging fell by the wayside a bit. But I’m back and have some recipe plans in the pipeline…
Continue reading “Recipe: Back to your roots soup”

Recipe: The best ever Christmas cake {part 2!}

It’s time to decorate our Christmas cakes! Back in November, just before Stir-Up Sunday, I shared my favourite ever Christmas cake recipe. After periodically feeding it with PX sherry over the last month, it’s now time to cover it in marzipan and icing, and to make it look pretty.
Continue reading “Recipe: The best ever Christmas cake {part 2!}”

Recipe: Winter smoothie

I’m really pleased with this one! I decided to make a smoothie especially for winter – for enjoying after a chilly run; as a mid-afternoon pick-me-up; or just for the appley, tangy, gingery joy of it. Drink cold, straight from the blender, or heat gently in a pan for a wintery drink that will really warm the cockles. This recipe yields one large serving.
Continue reading “Recipe: Winter smoothie”