Our asparagus has loved this cool crisp Spring cropping a couple of weeks earlier than usual – we have had to water daily though and Ed’s mini irrigation robot found on ebay has been perfect.
Asparagus has to be one of the best of British veg – so delicious and full of flavour and far superior and tasty compared to imported varieties during the rest of the year.
An extraordinary veg as it can grow up to 10cm a day – it’s a real labour of love though as each spear is picked by hand when it reaches the right height.
Healthy – Packed full of goodness with high levels of vitamins A, also K for healthy blood clotting and C to boost your immune system, potassium, iron, calcium and a diuretic – good for detox but gives urine an unmistakable aroma – which curiously not everyone can smell!
Quick and versatile – boil, steam, grill, roast or barbeque
Serve simply with melted butter or hollandaise sauce, bake in a quiche, enjoy with an egg and anchovy dressing, in a warm salad, with bacon and mozzarella in a slider, add with chilli and salmon to pasta for a speedy supper or try Dan’s recipe below with ricotta and smoked garlic wrapped in filo pastry.
In the Shop
With bank holidays this month and warmer weather, thoughts are turning to summer entertaining, barbeques and alfresco eating – you may like the:
Stylish recycled glass platters and bowls for salads, serving dishes, pizza plates.
Carafes, water glasses, wine glasses too in a variety of cheerful colours.
Large glass drink dispensers with taps that work well for non-alcoholic drinks as well as a good punch or sangria.
Add instant cheer with gorgeous artificial flowers – we’re pleased to have found the most realistic hydrangeas, peonies, sweet peas and orchids – there’s a variety of vases and jugs to display and decorate your home as well.
We love the porcelain storage jars, pots, dishes and vases from Raedar Design. These beautiful, fun and quirky white products feature animals, birds or figures – each tells a little story about the big topics of life and designed to make you smile –
Simmons Bakery – Saturday 6 May
Established in 1838, Simmons is one of the oldest independent bakeries in Herts and know a thing or two about making quality bread. There will be a couple of varieties of sourdough bread and cake – pecan and maderia for you to taste.
Infused Olive Oils – Saturday 20 May
Made with extra virgin olive oil from groves in Calabria, Italy, the range named Le Opere e i Giorni (The Works and Days), is named after an ancient Greek poem. There are six flavours Basil, Rosemary, Lemon, Bergamot, Chilli, Garlic, Black Pepper and Balsamic Vinegar. Do join us and taste how these different oils work so well with a variety of foods.
Cheeses of the Month
We’ve four cheeses for you this month that carry a 20% discount. Look out for the red star.
Gruyere D’Alpage – this seasonal gruyere is made only from summer milk of cows that graze high in the Swiss meadows giving it a distinctive flavour from the different plants and grasses. A hard cheese made from unpasteurised milk, it is then matured for a year and develops a complex flavour, full of sweet caramel notes and rich nuttiness.
We’re extremely lucky that Rowcliffe, our suppliers are the only wholesaler to have secured nearly all the supply of last year’s cheese – the rest will be for the Swiss elite. Do take the opportunity to enjoy it whilst you can.
Gil our man from Corney & Barrow wine recommends a personal favourite of his with this cheese. The cracking El Campesino Chardonnay from Chile is rich and well-rounded but bursting with fresh citrus and stone fruit characters. These flavours and the creaminess on the finish will partner the caramel and nutty elements of the cheese.
Godminster Cheddar (v)– a strong creamy Cheddar made from Godminster’s own organic herd in Somerset. Full of flavour with a definite bite at the finish. It comes in a striking purple wax and a real treat on any cheeseboard.
A full-flavoured wine is required here and the beautiful 50/50 Rioja Joven stands up to the task. It has an excellent purity of fruit and an aromatic character but is still packed with classic flavours of vanilla, strawberry and liquorice. A great partner for this strongly flavoured cheddar.
Blue Murder (v)– this strong gorgonzola style cheese is made with pasteurised cow’s milk to a recipe created by Alex James, an ex-bass guitarist from the band Blur. Softer and creamier than many blues it has a thin, sticky, grey-white rind, ivory interior and purple blue streaks. The flavour is steely yet faintly sweet with hints of dark chocolate and spices on the finish.
Gil is remaining a traditionalist with the pairing of a good blue with a dessert wine and strongly recommends a glass (or two) of Château Septy from Monbazillac in the south west of France. This is a blend of Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc affected by noble rot which naturally concentrates the sugars allowing for an intensely ripe wine with bright exotic and citrus fruit and honeyed notes. It works extremely well alongside the saltiness of the cheese and complements the chocolate and spice on the finish.
Perl wen (v) – ‘white pearl’ is the delicious creamy brie-style cheese from Wales, soft and succulent with a citrus centre.
For extravagance, Gil reckons Champagne is the way to go but instead recommends another classic pairing of the Merlot-dominant Corney & Barrow St Emilion from the Right Bank of Bordeaux. With the perfect blend of red and black fruits alongside supple but grippy tannins, this wine will not overpower the cheese but rather compliment and leave you wanting more.
Asparagus, smoked garlic & ricotta tart
1 pack filo pastry
2 bunches asparagus
2 red onions, finely diced
3 cloves smoked garlic, very finely chopped
1 lemon zested
Egg wash – 1 egg beaten with splash of milk or water
Using a 10”x 8” baking tray, brush with plenty of melted butter. Roast the asparagus for 10 mins in a hot oven with a good glug of olive oil. Remove the asparagus.
Mix all the other ingredients with the ricotta until smooth. Place half the pastry sheets on the baking tray egg washing between each layer of pastry.
Then spread half the ricotta mix onto the pastry, followed by the asparagus, spread the remaining ricotta onto the asparagus, finally layer the rest of the pastry on the tart egg washing each layer.
Bake at 170⁰C for 25 mins, cool for 5 minutes before cutting.