Archive for May, 2012

May 31, 2012

Nasturtium Pesto – Lower Food Miles Version- Recipe

by Ciaran Burke
Nasturtium pesto with Spelt Spaghetti

Nasturtium Pesto with Spelt Spaghetti

We have The Garden School at BLOOM this year situated in the “Budding Bloomers” area. We are hoping to inspire future generations of gardeners by teaching children (and many adults) how to make plant pots from newspaper and then sow a nasturtium seed into peat free compost.

Nasturtiums are ornamental and edible. The simplest way to enjoy tem is to tear the leaves and petal into a salad. I love to use nasturtiums as pesto. featured here is our own lower food miles version that ses Irish produced rapeseed oil, irish goas cheese and sunflowers are cheaper than pine nuts, it is delicious.

we have a free nasturtium recipe booklet available for free download from The Garden School website. There are also some videos on how to make the pots!

http://www.thegardenschool.ie/THE_GARDEN_SCHOOL/BLOOM_2012.html

Nasturtium Pesto – Lower Food Miles Version- Recipe

Ingredients:

50g nasturtium leaves

2 garlic cloves, crushed

6 green nasturtium fruits

50g sunflower seeds

75g of Kilmallock organic goats cheese

juice of half a lemon

150 ml of olive oil Rapeseed Oil

Some salt, according to taste.

Method:

Throw everything into a food processor. Let it whizz around for a couple of minutes. The mixture should be well blended, a nice green colour.

The mixture can be used straight away, but this quantity will give you enough to fill a couple of small jars. When filling the jars pour a little oil on top of the pesto to seal them and help preserve them. They will keep for a few weeks.

 Image
Image
May 28, 2012

Stuffed Red Mustard Leaves – Recipe

by Ciaran Burke
Stuffed Red Mustard leaves with pinhead oats

Stuffed Red Mustard leaves with pinhead oats

Last year we sowed red mustard leaves, Brassica juncea ‘Osaka Purple’, in neat rows in our salad bed in the vegetable garden. This year it is coming up all over the vegetable gardens and beyond. The large floppy red leaves are mottled green and the flowers are yellow and typical of the cabbage family.

It grows easily and rapidly, their hot flavour is delicious when mixed with salad greens, but there is always too many of them. The majority of the plants end up going to seed and hence, their random and rapacious appearances grabbing land and spreading faster than Genghis Khan. So what to do with all these lovely leaves? The answer, perhaps it is stuffed leaves with pin head oats…

INGREDIENTS
– 12 large red mustard leaves
– 1 Onion, chopped finely
-1/2 Chilli chopped
– 1/2 cup of pinhead oats
– Dessert spoon of honey
– Handful of raisins
– 1/2 cup of water
– Oil for frying

METHOD
1. Remove the base of the leaf stalk, and put the leaves in a steamer to wilt the leaves. This makes them easier to roll. Place them face down on a flat surface.

2. Fry the onions until they are soft. Add the chopped chilli and the oats. Fry to toast the oats, stir continuously, about ten minutes.

3. Add the water, raisins and honey, and cook until the oats are softened slightly, about 15 mins.

4. Remove from heat and put a heaped dessert spoonful of the oat mixture on each leaf.

5. Roll the leaves around the mixture and fold in the ends.

6. Place the rolls into a Pyrex dish, you can stack them if you need to, cover them with water and place on the lid.

7. Put in a heated oven 190 Celcius and cook for an hour. Check occasionally to make sure the water does not boil away completely. Add a little if needed.

8. When done, remove from oven dish and transfer to a serving dish. Drizzle over some rapeseed oil.

Serve hot or cold.

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Red Mustard- Brassica juncea "Osaka Purple'

Red Mustard- Brassica juncea “Osaka Purple’

Red Mustard Leves (centre) in rows in salad bed

Red Mustard Leves (centre) in rows in salad bed

May 20, 2012

Spruce Shoot Jam – Recipe

by Ciaran Burke
New spruce shoots

New spruce shoots

Spruce trees are a common site in the west of Ireland, not just as part of the alien forestry that covers much of the land, but also you see groups of old trees close to houses, derelict old cottages and lived in houses like ours.

Spruce trees beside our house

Spruce trees beside our house

That is exactly what we have close to our house, very close. I guess that these spruce trees were originally planted so as to provide shelter from the frequent and strong west winds.Now they have grown tall and cast a shadow over the garden in the evening time. We plant exotic woodland species under them, and hostas thrive there.

The species often seen is Sitka spruce, Picea sitchensis, a fast growing species. It is the most widely planted forestry tree, a non-native species that is controversial. It is favoured by forestry companies due to its rapid growth but it does not do much for enriching the wildlife of the country. Beneath them nothing grows and they have a big impact on acidification of soils.

Spruce trees are a common sight in the west of Ireland

Spruce trees are a common sight in the west of Ireland

Spruce has been traditionally used as a cough syrup, in fact it is sold in health food shops in that form. Spruce syrup can be made which is quite tasty and sweet and also spruce cordial. I made the cordial which is very nice and refreshing when diluted with sparkling water. The spruce shoot jam is very good too, an almost caramel like flavour with a hint of, spruciness…

 

To make the jam I first cooked the spruce shoots in water, i used about 2 cups of shoots and covered them with water and cooked simmered for about four hours. After it cooled overnight I strained it through a muslin cloth and then kept the spruce liquid in the fridge.

Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of spruce concentrate (see above)
  • 3 Large dessert apples, peeled, cored and chopped finely
  • 2 bottles (2 x 360ml) of apple juice concentrate
  • Juice of one lemon

Method:

  1. Wash the spruce shoots in cold water
  2. Add the apples, lemon juice and fruit concentrate to the saucepan
  3. Cook with a medium heat until the apple pieces are soft (about 15 minutes)
  4. Add the spruce concentrate
  5. Turn up the heat and cook until the jam starts to thicken, about 15-20 minutes
  6. Spoon or pour into sterilized jam jars and put lids on straight away

This made three jars of jam.

Fresh new growths in May on spruce tree

Fresh new growths in May on spruce tree

May 19, 2012

The Magician and the Glasnevin Potato Vine – Botanic Gardens Dublin May 2012

by Ciaran Burke
DEUTZIA PURPURASCENS 'ALPINE MAGICIAN'

DEUTZIA PURPURASCENS ‘ALPINE MAGICIAN’

It should be warm, warmer than today. I am not under any illusion, I do not expect the sun to shine every day, this is Ireland, but this is May, it should not be freezing!

I met a group of my students this morning in the National Botanic Gardens in Glasnevin Dublin, one of our monthly meetings. The sky stayed grey all day and the temperatures remained low. It was sort of surreal to see the beautiful tree peony Paeonia rockii ‘He Ping Lian’ in bloom with its heady scent, but to be freezing cold. Despite the less than comfortable weather we brazed the elements, a bunch of hardy perennials that we are and enjoyed some of the beauty that the botanic gardens always has to share. The copper beach, the floriferous Deutzia and Weigela shrubs, the dainty white bracts of the handkercief tree, Davidia involucrata, all beautiful.

Two of Glasnevin’s own gems were looking particularly fine in the cold; Solanum crispum ‘Glasnevin’ and Deutzia purpurascens ‘Alpine Magician’. The former is the better j=known plant, a scranbling shrub best when trained to support against a wall, at the side of the visitor centre it covers a large portion of red brick wall. It is the best selection of the species, a relative to the spud which is Solanum tuberosum. Native of South America. The ‘Glasnevin’ cultivar is hardier than the species and much more floriferous. It is a vigorous large growing plant that will flower throughout the summer.

SOLANUM CRISPUM 'GLASNEVIN'

SOLANUM CRISPUM ‘GLASNEVIN’

SOLANUM CRISPUM 'GLASNEVIN'

SOLANUM CRISPUM ‘GLASNEVIN’

Deutzia purpurascens ‘Alpine Magician’ was named by Charles Nelson who was botanist at the gardens while I was a student there. It was named by him in reference and reverence to Reginald Farrer the great plant hunter and alpine gardener. This particular plant was grown from seed that was collected by farrer in Burma. It is a graceful shrub about 2 metres high and covered in clusters of pink tinged white flowers with red centres. A hardy and floriferous deciduous shrub that is seldom seen in garden centres and nurseries, which is ashame. Luckily there is a fine specimen growing in the woodland garden at Glasnevin for everyone to admire.

There were many beautiful sights to admire in the gardens, I took some photos with my phone and here they are for you to enjoy too…

www.thegardenschool.ie

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May 19, 2012

Primrose Petal Jam– Recipe

by Ciaran Burke
Petals in measuring jug

Petals in measuring jug

Primroses carpet the ground under an old hawthorn tree in our garden, the clothe the soil with a fragility and light, their gentle perfume is a delight. Primula vulgaris is a native plant, a wild flower that is always welcome in our garden. Each year they bring freshness and beauty to the Spring.

Their flowers appear delicate but they are robust plants. The petals of each flower untie at their bases to form a narrow tube that attached to the green stalk. Given a gentle tug, they detach easily from their bases. You can munch them and they taste nice, an unique flavour. I imagined a jam made from them…

Primrose flowers

Primrose flowers

Based on recipes for rose petal jelly and adapted to include some apple for abit of body here is a jam I made from primroes petals gathered in our garden last weekend. It is deilcious, a flavour which is a mix of fruity sweetness and a late hint of turkish delight…

Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 litre of primrose flowers. When foraging for wild food, do not collect flowers, leaves or fruits from beside busy roads, or areas where they are exposed to possible pollution.
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1½ cup of fruit sugar Ii used Fruisana, a fructose based sugar which is lower in calories and has a lower GI rating than ordinary sugar).
  • 2 Apples, peeled, cored and diced finely
  • Juice of one lemon
Primrose flowers in saucepan

Primrose flowers in saucepan

Method:

  1. Wash the flowers in cold water.
  2. Add the flowers petals, water, lemon juice and apple pieces into a saucepan
  3. Cook with a medium heat until the apple pieces are soft (about 15 minutes)
  4. Slowly add the sugar, stirring until the sugar is dissolved
  5. Turn up the heat and cook until the jam starts to thicken, about 25-20 minutes
  6. Spoon or pour into sterilized jam jars and put lids on straight away

This made nearly two jars of jam.

pouring Jam into a jar

pouring Jam into a jar

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