Lewis Carroll first told the story of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland during a rowing trip along the Thames 150 years ago. Celebrate the anniversary on Saturday 7 July by packing an Alice themed picnic and head for Oxford’s Botanic Garden, where a frabjious afternoon is assured - more >>
This recipe is a fun way of adding something original to the picnic basket. You can actually buy delicious ready-made hedgehog rolls, for just 50 pence each, from the Natural Breadd Company’s shop in Eynsham, or you can have great fun encouraging children to make their own as hedgehogs are an integral part of the Alice story.
“When Alice discovered that live hedgehogs were used as croquet balls and flamingos acted as mallets in the Queen of Hearts croquet match, she thought it was all very curious”.
To make 8 rolls you will need:
8oz (225g) strong white flour
1 tspn salt
1oz (25g) soft butter
1½ tspns easy blend dried yeast
1 tspn caster sugar
Approx ¼ pt (150ml) warm milk
Place all ingredients except the water into a large warmed bowl and rub in the butter.
Make a well in the middle and gently add the warmed milk, until you have a soft dough.
Turn onto a floured surface and kneed for about 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Pat into a large round, cover with a clean cloth and leave to rise for about half an hour.
Knock back and cut into 8 pieces. Roll each piece into an oblong shape, then shape the head by squeezing the dough gently at one end.
Place the rolls on an oiled tray
Add two raisins for eyes and using a pair of clean kitchen scissors make cuts on the surface to create the prickles.
Cover again until the rolls have doubled in size and cook in a preheated oven at 220°C / 425°F or gas mark 7 for 20 minutes or until light brown.
The word pesto is a generic term for anything made by pounding in a pestle and mortar. Although it is often made from parsley, be assured the best pesto is made from basil, particularly if you have grown it yourself and it is freshly picked.
The village Co-op now stocks pots of fresh herbs - including basil if you haven’t any on the windowsill or garden.
Some recipes suggest that you pound the garlic and nuts together first and then add the other ingredients, others start by pounding the basil leaves. I’ve tried both and still can’t decide which is best. Perhaps Elizabeth David’s method which suggests you pound the garlic with the leaves of the basil together is how it should be done, though she doesn’t add either Parmesan cheese or pine nuts in her pesto.
To serve 4 people you will need:
2 large handfuls of your choice of basil
2 - 3 cloves of garlic
1oz (25g) pine nuts
2 fl oz virgin olive oil
1oz (25g) Parmesan cheese - grated.
Pound with a pestle and mortar in whatever order you feel fit until the mix becomes thick but not solid.
Add a little more olive oil if it needs thinning down.
This mix can be frozen. Try freezing it in an ice cube tray, then place in a bag in the freezer so it can be used when needed.
Pesto is a great way of adding flavour to soups, sauces and jazzing up mashed potatoes
It can be used to enrich a chicken or fish dish by spreading it on the flesh before baking.
Try adding it to bread dough for an alternative to garlic bread, or spread on toast.
Mix with pasta for a great meal or stir into an omelette.
It also makes a great dip.
The classic summer pudding is an easy and delicious way of combining the summer fruits you have picked on your allotment or garden or harvested from your local pick your own. Whilst I have included a list of ingredients, the joy of this pudding is that you can mix together all manner of summer berry fruits to make this dish. I once made it with blackcurrants only, adding a splash of an orange-based fruit liqueur for extra flavour and it was delicious.
To serve 6 people you will need:
8 slices of white bread
2 lb of berry fruits, which can include raspberries, blackcurrants, redcurrants, blackberries, strawberries or tayberries. (You can add cherries too, but best to remove their pips before adding to the mix)
4oz to 6oz (125g-150g) caster sugar
1 ½ pt pudding basin, lightly buttered.
Prepare the fruit by removing stalks or any greenery, wash gently and place in large saucepan with 4oz of the sugar (Add more sugar if the mix proves too sharp when cooked).
Place saucepan over a very gentle heat and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the juices begin to weep from the fruits. Do not let this mix cook for too long or the flavour will be spoiled and the fruit will beak up.
Taste, stirring in a little more sugar if needed.
Cut the crusts from the bread slices, then cut them in half longways, leaving one slice that can be cut into a round and used to fill the hole in the bottom.
Line the pudding basin with the slices of bread, allowing them to overlap so there are no gaps. Place a circle of bread at the bottom of the dish.
Spoon the fruit mix into the bread lined dish with a slatted spoon, so that it is filled with fruit rather than juice, retaining any juice left over to pour over the pudding before you serve it.
Cover the top with more overlapping slices of bread, trim if necessary, then place a saucer over the top and then a weight, such as a tin of soup on top of the saucer.
Place the pudding in the refrigerator and let it rest for at least 12 hours.
Before serving, turn out into a large serving dish and spoon the reserved juice and any cooked fruit left over onto the top of the pudding.
Serve with lashings of clotted cream.
NOTE: for extra flavour try adding a fruit liqueur to the juices.
There are times when life really is a big bowl of cherries and the time is now. Oxfordshire cherries are ripening rapidly. Those who are not lucky enough to have a cherry tree in their garden can visit Q Gardens Pick Your Own at Milton Hill (near Steventon) and harvest them from a large orchard full of trees laden with these delicious fruits.
If you pick so many you have enough over to make a delicious summer dessert, this classic recipe works very well, as it allows the cooked cherries to retain their glorious flavour.
To serve 6 people you will need:
1lb (450g) freshly picked cherries
Butter to grease your favourite pie dish
2oz (50g) flour
3 free range eggs
4oz (100g) caster sugar
Couple of drops of pure vanilla essence
250 ml milk
Pinch of salt
Icing sugar to dust finished dish
Turn the oven to 190°C / 375°F or gas mark 5.
Rub butter around the inside of your pie dish and scatter a pinch of flour on top to prevent it sticking as it cooks.
Whisk the eggs along with the sugar, and vanilla essence, then stir the salt and flour.
Once these ingredients are well mixed pour in the milk to create a batter.
Allow the batter to rest for at least a half an hour, then pour enough into the baking dish to cover the bottom.
Scatter the cherries on top of the batter, then pour the remaining batter on top of them.
Place in the oven and bake for about 40 minutes, or until it has turned a golden brown and all the cherries have risen to the surface.
This dish is best served warm (but not hot) once removed from the oven, so allow it to cool a little, sprinkle with icing sugar before serving it with whipped double cream or the delicious clotted cream that is now being sold at the Co-op.
NOTE: you can stone the cherries before adding them to the mix if you wish - or keep them whole - it’s up to you.
If you don’t like garlic this recipe is not for you, but if you love the combination of crispy bacon and lush green beans that come with a strong garlic flavour you should enjoy this salad which can be served either warm or cold.
A great dish to serve at lunchtime with crunchy home made bread on a hot summer’s day.
To serve 4 – 6 people you will need:
1lb ( 450g) mix of shelled broad beans, peas and French beans
8 slices of Dews Meadow dry cured bacon
Handful of fresh herbs to include parsley, chives, basil
2 tbspns white wine vinegar
1 large or 2 small cloves of garlic – peeled
2 level tspns dry mustard powder
5 tbspns virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black peppercorns to season.
Grill the bacon slices until they crisp up.
Cook the shelled beans, peas and French beans in boiling salted water until done, drain.
Make the dressing by crushing the garlic along with enough salt to season in a pestle and mortar, then blend in the dry mustard powder.
Add the vinegar, a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper corns and then whisk in the oil.
Cut the bacon in to bite size pieces, chop the herbs and combine all the ingredients in a large bowl, stirring carefully to ensure the dressing is evenly distributed.
For 4 people you will need:
One pound of shelled fresh peas
One small lettuce
Bunch spring onions
Small bunch parsley – chopped fine
2oz (50g) butter
1 tspn sugar
Salt and freshly ground black peppercorns to season.
Rub a little butter round the base of a saucepan large enough to contain all the ingredients.
Line the bottom of the saucepan with the lettuce leaves.
Remove the green and the roots from the spring onions and drop them in too.
Now add the butter, chopped parsley, sugar and peas and pour 4 tablespoons of water over the lot.
Season and bring slowly to the boil.
When boiling point is reaches, reduce the temperature and allow to simmer without a lid until the water has evaporated and the peas are tender.
Adjust seasoning and serve.
NOTE: this is one of those dishes that tastes remarkably good when served warm rather than hot.
Globe artichokes are ready to harvest!
These delightful vegetables are a real treat to be enjoyed at leisure, preferably on a balmy summer evening when you have time to pull off the petals one by one eat slowly as you savour the taste sensations they provide.
They can be enjoyed hot or cold by plucking off the petals one by one and sucking away the fleshy part while sipping a glass of chilled wine under the apple tree. The much prized heart of the artichoke, which lies at the base of the globe, is eaten last with a spoon.
The first job, having harvested them, is to place them heads down in a large bowl of salted water for about half an hour. This flushes out any insects that might be lurking between the petals.
To cook globe artichokes:
Trim the bottom of so that it will sit flat, having snapped off the stem, and pulled out any strings attached to the heart.
Using scissors trim the spikes of the petals about half an inch then rub a little lemon juice on the cut to prevent it browning. (You don’t have to do this, trimming the petals is optional)
Place the artichokes head down in a pan of boiling salted water to which a teaspoon of lemon juice or wine vinegar has been added, lower the heat and allow to simmer for about 35 to 45 minutes. If they float to the top, try weighting them down with a saucer or small plate.
When cooked remove from water and drain upside down in a colander.
Allow them to cool a little then serve with melted butter, lemon wedges or Hollandaise sauce.
Raspberries tend to break up if subjected to a high heat, but for this pudding that is OK. Blackberries are normally used for this soft berry version of apple tarte tatin, but if you have an abundance of raspberries at the moment and are looking for a different way to serve them – they work just as well.
For 4-6 people you will need:
12oz (350g) fresh raspberries
2oz (50g) soft butter
20z (50g) brown muscovado sugar
Juice of half a lemon.
For the pastry:
2oz (50g) soft butter
2oz (50g) icing sugar
One medium egg beaten
4oz (125g) plain flour
Turn the oven to 200°C / 400°F or Gas mark 6.
Place the berries in a 9-inch cast iron pan, or flan dish.
Stir muscovado sugar and butter and lemon juice together over medium heat until the mix bubbles and you have a butterscotch mixture. Pour this over the raspberries and place the pan in the oven while you make the pastry.
Mix butter, icing sugar, egg and flour together and roll into circle just a little larger than the flan dish.
Remove raspberries from the oven and quickly place pastry circle over the top, by rolling it round the rolling pin and then gradually unrolling it over the dish. Now quickly tuck in the edges into the pan with a palette knife. If juices leak over the raw paste a little don’t worry.
Return to the oven on a tin to catch any juices and allow it to cook for at least 15 minutes, or until the pastry is done.
Allow to settle for five minutes, then cover the dish with a flat plate and invert so that it tips out raspberry side up.
Serve warm with cream or ice cream, having decorated with a sprig or two of lemon balm if you have some growing in the garden.
Choux buns are really easy to make providing you remember that they need to be put straight into a very hot oven that has reached the required temperature. If you put them into a warm oven you will end up with a tray of soggy biscuits.
You will need:
4oz (125g) butter
4oz (125g) plain flour
Half pint water
4 free range eggs
150ml double cream
First turn your oven to 220ºC/425ºF or gas mark 7.
Grease and flour a large flat baking tray to prevent the buns from sticking as they cook.
Place the water and butter into a saucepan and heat until the butter has melted.
Stir in the flour and salt and stir really well over a moderate heat until the mix begins to form into a soft ball.
Remove from the heat and beat in the eggs one by one. At this stage you should have a smooth shiny paste.
Use a couple of spoons or a piping bag place rounds of the paste on the greased tray. Size is up to you as long as you remember that if cooked properly they will double in size, so leave enough room for them to expand.
Bake in hot oven for ten minutes and then WITHOUT opening the oven door turn the heat down to 190ºC/375ºF or gas mark 5.
Leave to cook a further ten minutes before carefully opening the oven door. When they are golden brown and puffed to twice their original size they are done.
For best effect – turn the oven off when they are done and allow them to remain in oven with the door open for another ten minutes to dry out.
Fill with whipped cream and oodles of fresh raspberries.
Serve with a raspberry sauce or a hot chocolate sauce.
Fish pie sounds such an ordinary dish - it’s certainly easy to make - but if you take care choosing your ingredients it can prove a real treat.
Eynsham residents are lucky. Every Wednesday, regardless of weather conditions, Roger Wydall's fish van stands opposite the village Post Office. The choice of fish is amazing considering it is all packed up in the back of a van, and the service helpful and friendly. You will have no trouble acquiring a mix of really fresh fish for this dish.
Enjoy this pie with a fresh seasonal salad for a perfectly balanced lunch.
For 6 people you will need:
2lb (900g) mix of white fish fillets
1 handful cooked prawns
¾ pt (425ml) milk
Bunch of spring onions, chopped
4 hard boiled eggs, rough chopped
1oz (25g) butter
1oz (25g) flour
2 tbspns single cream
Small bunch parsley, chopped fine
1 bay leaf
1lb (450g) smooth mashed potatoes to which a little butter and milk has been added
Tomatoes to garnish
Salt and freshly ground black peppercorns to season.
Turn the oven to 180°C/350°F or Gas mark 4.
Heat the milk with the bay leaf until reaches boiling point.
Place the fish fillets in an ovenproof dish and having removed the bay leaf, pour over fish fillets, cover and cook for about 15 minutes.
Remove fish from oven, strain and reserve the milk and flake the fish into a pie dish, taking care to take out all the bones.
Add the chopped eggs, prawns, spring onions and parsley to the fish.
Heat the butter in a pan, stir in the flour, then gradually add the reserved milk, stirring as you go until you have a smooth creamy sauce, adding the cream at the end. Taste, adjust seasoning and pour the sauce over the fish.
Carefully top the dish with the mashed potato, garnish with sliced tomatoes and bake for about 15 minutes, or until the filling is bubbling and the top has turned a delicious golden brown.
Once you have eaten one clove of garlic you might as well eat a dozen - your breath will be no different.
Garlic plays an important role in seasoning all manner of dishes but it can also be served whole, either as a starter served with wedges of crunchy bread, or as a side vegetable.
To roast garlic:
Trim away the roots and bottom so that it will stand firm on the roasting tray and plate.
With a really sharp knife cut away about half an inch of the top which will expose the cloves.
Trim away any of the papery skin that will come away easily and place each head of garlic on a baking tray.
Dribble a little olive oil over the garlic, season with salt and freshly ground black peppercorn and roast in a hot oven for about 35 minutes or until the cloves are soft and the flesh begins oozing out of the top.
Serve just as they are, along with any of the oil in the roasting pan poured over them. You can always add a little olive oil to the plate too.
Eat by picking out a clove and squeezing the cooked flesh onto a piece of bread that has been dunked in the warm oil first.
The common and most popular sage that we use in the kitchen (Salvia Officinalis) is at its best and most aromatic now, so if you have an abundance of sage growing on the allotment or in the garden, it’s worth drying some ready for the winter months.
Unlike other herbs, sage actually increases its flavour if dried and stored away from the light.
All you have to do is punch a few holes in a paper bag to allow air to circulate, pack the leaves into the bag and hang the bag in a warm place, away from the light, such as the airing cupboard.
When the leaves have turned crisp and crumble at the touch they are ready to store in a sealed container until needed.
The wonderful thing about cooking soup is that you can keep throwing things into the pot until you are happy with the flavour. This soup is really easy to make but how it finally tastes is up to you. I began by adding the juice and zest of one orange to this soup, but on final tasting decided that the juice and zest of two gave it far more punch.
For 4-6 people you will need:
8 oz (250g) spinach
Grated zest and juice of one/two oranges
2 medium potatoes peeled and diced small
One clove garlic - chopped
One medium onion - chopped
One ounce (25g) butter
One pint chicken stock
Salt and freshly ground black peppercorn to season
Grated orange zest to garnish.
Wash spinach well and drain.
Place spinach in a saucepan with the chicken stock and cook until soft.
In another pan, warm the butter, add the chopped potatoes, chopped onion and garlic and cook gently until the potatoes begin to soften.
Add the juice and zest of one orange and season.
Place the contents of both saucepans into the liquidizer and zap into a puree.
Taste, adjust seasoning, and if you think it’s needed add the juice and zest of the second orange.
Return to a clean saucepan, reheat and serve with crusty bread or croutons.
If you have a few over-ripe strawberries you don’t know what to do with, don’t throw them away, they can be turned into a perfect summer drink by adding them to a glass of chilled cider.
The combination is terrific - what’s more it looks and tastes like a champagne cocktail.
For two glasses you will need:
One chilled bottle of Wychwood’s Green Goblin cider
4 ripe strawberries
Generous dash of grenadine
Place the strawberries in the liquidizer along with a generous dash of grenadine and zap into a puree.
Pour half the puree into each glass and carefully top up with chilled cider.
If you have so many strawberries in the house that you don’t know what to do with them, then turn them into wine. Strawberry wine is absolutely delicious. Turing strawberries into wine is certainly one way of enjoying your summer produce during the winter months. This recipe follows one written by the late Mollie Harris - she adds a few drops of whiskey to her strawberries whereas I prefer to let the flavour of the strawberries come to the fore.
For one demijohn, to fill 4/5 bottles of wine, you will need:
4lb (2kg) fresh strawberries
3lb (2 kg) granulated sugar
1 sachet dried yeast
Juice of 2 lemons
Equipment: One glass demijohn, one airlock, one cork designed to hold airlock, two buckets, large strainer, large funnel and a piece of muslin. Also sterilizing tablets.
Place the strawberries in a bucket and mash with a potato peeler or wooden spoon - or use your fingers which are usually far more effective.
Pour a gallon of cold water over the mashed strawberries, stir well and cover for three days - or until the mashed fruit begins to float to the top.
Strain into another bucket (discard the squashed fruit). Add the lemon juice and sugar, stir well then add the yeast and stir again.
Cover and leave for at least four days, only straining it into a sterilized demijohn using a funnel and muslin, when you are confident that the yeast activity has calmed down.
Top with a little water if need be to ensure that the demijohn is full.
Fix the cork securely into the demijohn and add the airlock having half filled it with water. Make sure the cork is secure and that bubbles are moving through the airlock, before placing the wine a dark cupboard until December.
NOTE: You may discover that a sponge-like substance has formed in the middle of the demijohn once the wine begins to age. Don’t worry - all strawberry wine develops this strange extra. It’s the sign of an excellent wine.
Bottle when the wine is clear and you are quite sure all yeast activity has ceased. If you bottle too early the corks may shoot out due to the build up of gases.