Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Pesto Power

All this hot and wet weather has made the garden go bonkers. Time to max out on the glut of yummy fresh herbs...

Classic Pesto: Shed loads of basil, toasted pine nuts, finely grated parmesan, and as much garlic as you like (roasted first if you want a milder flavour). Whizz it up with with enough XV olive oil to make a saucy consistency and then pig out! Great on pasta of course, but also in sarnies, on grilled portobello mushrooms with mozzarella, and layered with cheese and spinach in a quick veggie lasagne. I also like to add a few good spoonfulls into basic tomato sauce to give it a bit more depth.

There are endless possibilities for adapting the pesto concept, depending on your particular herb glut (Italians look away now!...) try coriander pesto to add to dishes with an eastern flavour, for example. My current favourite is parsley pesto - a truly English pesto if you team it with roasted pumpkin seeds, swaledale ewe's milk cheese and roasted pumpkin seeds... and you must call it 'parsleh pestoe' in your finest Yorkshire accent!

Saturday, 27 June 2009

Feasts and festivals

Well it's been a very busy couple of months working on and at the Taste Festivals. With two down and one still to go (Birmingham coming up soon), things are crazy as always but going very well. Head on over to Meemalee's Kitchen for two lovely write ups of her experiences as a visitor and a worker.

Today I went to Cockermouth in Cumbria with Andrea, Diane and Laurence, to enjoy a festival of another kind. We had a very early start and were there waiting excitedly in the queue before the show opened, ready to do some serious yarny shopping at Woolfest 2009. There was certainly no shortage of beautiful yarn and fibre to spend our cash on, as well as a generous selection of interesting breeds... and some alpacas leading the way in summer hairstyling whether they liked it or not!

The Twist Fibre Craft Studio stand looked absolutely stunning, especially with all the hand dyed pre-felt that Laura has been working hard to create over recent weeks.

So now I guess it's confession time. I don't think I was the first of our merry little group to crack open my wallet, but I certainly didn't hold back once I got started. Ok, I'm going to just do this quickly so it doesn't hurt! Here it is...

Here's my recipe for oaty date bars - serious sustenance for serious yarn hunters:

225g chopped dates
3 tbsp water, 2 tbsp lemon juice

125g butter
160g golden caster sugar
1 egg
1tbsp golden syrup
1tsp vanilla essence
145g wholemeal flour
1 tsp baking powder
pinch salt
105g rolled oats
100g dessicated coconut

Gently heat the dates with the water and lemon juice until all the liquid has been absorbed and the dates have softened. Set aside to cool.

Cream the butter and sugar together, then beat in the egg and golden syrup. Add the other ingredients and combine.

Press half of the dough into a greased 20x30cm, spread the dates on top, and then cover them with the remaining dough mixture. Bake at 180 for 25-30 minutes until golden brown.

This one is also great with other dried fruit fillings like apricot or cranberry.