Busy week this week with Easter orders and stock to make for the shop. Great to see the first of the rhubarb coming in, I always think it heralds the start of the preserving season proper. That's wrong really as I preserve year round, but it is the first of our native fruits - except it's a vegetable, botanically speaking. I know this because I dragged Trev for a visit round a rhubarb farm in Pontefract, one of the best known of the old farms, Olroyd's. It was absolutely fascinating and I now have much greater respect for this rather humble er, fruitable! One of the best times to go is in early February and have a tour of the forcing sheds and a very informative talk afterwards.
I have some raspberries in the freezer so you may have too - why not try making Rhubarb & Raspberry Jam? It is really delicious and both fruits shine through in the taste. I only made one batch last year and regretted it for the rest of the year.
Chilli Jam was also on the list to make as I have been out of stock for a while ( because I don't actually like it! ) I set to though and really it is easy to make and a best seller. The ingredients look so colourful and the hens really love all of the peelings. In fact they thought it was their birthdays and Christmas yesterday there were so many peelings. The hear my car coming down the lane and are all waiting in the compost bin by the time I get to them. Needless to say there isn't much compost! That is more than up for by their obvious pleasure and they would be smacking their lips if they had any!
One of my deli customers had ordered their usual weekend bucket of pesto and while I am making it I always think how useful it is as a standby ingredient. You can have it on pasta dishes of course, in fact, it is so delicious you can just have it stirred through some good pasta for a quick lunch. Use it on tomato based dishes and drizzled over pizza either before or after cooking. I use it on squares of puff pastry, topped with a small piece of Brie, or similar, baked for around 15 mins and then topped with a splodge of pesto - great nibbles to have with drinks. You could have it on a jacket potato with or without cheese, stirred through mashed potato, spread in tomato sandwiches or rolls. With the Easter weekend coming up, why not make a batch and keep in the fridge? It's good for 2-3 weeks and only takes minutes to make. Here's how.
Pick the leaves from a handful of fresh basil ( approx 2 x pre-packs ) and put into the goblet of a liquidiser or the bowl of a processor.
Give a quick whizz to lightly chop the leaves. Add around 75g pine nuts, 2 roughly chopped garlic cloves, salt and freshly ground black pepper and around 100ml olive oil. Whizz again until combined and smooth-ish. Add around 50g grated parmesan cheese and whizz to mix in the cheese. Add a little more oil if needed, or more cheese if too runny.
That's it. Store it in a jar or small bowl in the fridge and be generous when you serve. The flavour is amazing and the colour is fresh and enticing.
These pictures show the amount I was making for my customer - yours will be less!