Sowing for Spring 2011

2011 growing season was officially launched today with our first bed of tunnel potatoes sown – first earlies, Orla. It’s always a great feeling to have the first potato bed in the ground. And so off we go again for the year…

Together with the autumn sown seed we now have a few crops underway – garlic, beetroot, onions and broad beans are also coming on well from October sowing. It’s a help to feel at least a part of our Spring work is underway.

Plenty still ahead of course… the first of the spring salads and spinach will be sown in the morning and put onto the heated cables to germinate for March planting.

Parsnip & Pancetta Tagliatelle with Parmesan & Butter

Parsnip & Pancetta Tagliatelle with Parmesan & Butter

Thanks to Kathy for this recipe – it is a great combination of sweet parsnip with salty parmesan and bacon, and is a very child friendly supper.

12 slices of pancetta of dry cured streaky bacon (smoked optional)
1 handful fresh rosemary
4 good knobs of butter
2 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
2 parsnips, peeled, halved and finely sliced lengthways
450g/1lb dried tagliatelle
3 good handfuls of grated parmesan
Sea salt & grated pepper

In a large, non-stick frying pan fry the pancetta/bacon and herbs in half of
the butter for 2 minutes, then add the garlic and parsnips. Cook for a
further 3 minutes on medium heat, until pancetta is slightly golden and the
parsnips have softened nicely.

Cool pasta, drain, reserving a little of the cooking water. Mix the pasta
with the parsnips and pancetta and stir in the rest of your butter and the
Parmesan. Adding a little of the cooking water to loosen the mixture and
make it creamy and shiny Season to taste.

Recipe index – season by season

At this time of year it can seem that the range of Irish produce is limited by comparison with the endless possibilities of mid summer, but there are loads of varied and really tasty recipes using winter produce. It just requires a bit of thought to break out the habits that we can fall into when we think of a particular ingredient and how it can be used.

With this in mind I am working on an index of recipes that I have come across in various books and from customers and friends that use ingredients in season in Ireland during that season. I will break it into each of the four seasons and hope to add to the index as I find new ideas over the year. You can see the index under it’s own heading on the website subject list.

Please send on any ideas that you would like included. Some of the recipes are already detailed on the website – if you see a recipe that you would like, but I haven’t yet added the detailed instructions please feel free to contact me – it will prompt me to type up the full recipe!

Ithaca pie

Ithaca Pie

This recipe was given to me by one of our customers – thank you Kathy! I have made a smaller version of this, using ready made puff pastry and making it into a roll. It worked out very well and was delicious. Ideal to serve sliced for parties, with a side salad.

1 cup = 8 oz

Adapted from In Season by Sarah Raven

Serves 12-15 (as a main course)

This recipe is for 12-15 people. You can halve it and make the pie in a standard 9″ x 13″ pan. If you do this, check the pie at 30-45 minutes.)
For the crust:
5 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups (3 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
3 eggs, beaten
Ice-cold water
1 tablespoon sesame seeds (optional)
For the filling:
2 pounds spinach, chard, kale (one, or a mixture of all, of these greens)
Large bunch of dill, finely chopped
4 tablespoons chopped mint
4 tablespoons chopped parsley
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 cup olive oil
4 scallions, finely chopped
2 leeks, finely chopped
1/2 cup long-grain rice (or brown rice or bulgur)
6 ounces feta (optional)
Salt and pepper
1. Sift the flour with the salt and rub in the butter or pulse in a food processor until it has the consistency of breadcrumbs. Add enough beaten eggs and ice water to bring the dough together in a ball. Wrap in plastic and leave in the fridge for at least 30 minutes (can be done a day in advance).
2. Remove the tough stalks from the spinach, chard, and kale. Coarsely chop the leaves and mix with the finely chopped herbs. Saute the onion and garlic in a little oil in a large pan until tender. And add all the greens, including the scallions and leeks. Mix well with most of the remaining oil. Incorporate the uncooked rice (or bulgur) and take off the heat. Season well with salt and pepper.
3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Divide the dough in two (one piece slightly larger than the other) and allow it to warm up for a minute or so. Roll out the dough–on a floured surface–as thinly as you possibly can.
4. Roll the larger piece around a rolling pin and transfer it to the base of your baking pan. Make sure that there is some pastry hanging over the side of the pan.
5. Add the filling and crumble the feta over it (if using). Cover with the other layer of dough. Crimp the two layers together by brushing with a little water and pinching around the edge.
6. Brush a little oil over the top and scatter with sesame seeds (if using). Prick the surface with a knife. Bake the pie in the preheated oven for just over an hour, until the top crust is golden brown.
This is delicious once it has cooled a little and is perhaps even better eaten cold the next day. It’s also excellent for feeding lots of people at a picnic.
A note on cutting chard. When cooking chard, you want to be able to enjoy both the leaves and stem, however, the problem can be that they cook at different rates. Instead of winding up with perfectly cooked leaves and undercooked stems, or well-cooked stems and over-cooked leaves, try separating them so they can both be cooked properly.
First, remove the leaves from the stem:

Then, stack all the leaves on top of each other and roll them up:

Next, cut through the roll so that you wind up with thinly shredded pieces
Lastly, dice up your stems as you would celery:

When you go to cook the chard, cook the stems first. Once they are almost done, add the leaves and cook until tender. This way, both parts will be cooked perfectly.
After sauteing the filling, you roll out the dough, assemble the pie, and bake.
The result is a deliciously flaky crust, chock full of chard (or whatever other greens you may decide to use), accented by pungent dill and salty feta.

Roasted radishes

from ‘The great big veg challenge – how to get your children eating vegetables happily’ by Charlotte Hume

This is a great book, geared towards using every veg from a-z in a child friendly way. Really nice recipes that give regular veg a twist.

A different look at radishes – roasting them softens their heat and brings out a gentler and sweeter flavour. Serves as a side dish:

750g radishes, halved
6 cloves of garlic, peeled
2-3 tbsp sesame oil
1/2 tsp mild chilli powder
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
pinch sea salt

Preheat the oven to 190c.
Place the radish halves in a deep baking tray.
Add the whole cloves of garlic, then cover in the sesame oil, chilli powder and smoked paprika. Add a pinch of salt.
Stir well to make sure they are coated in the oil and seasonings.
Roast in the oven for 30mins.
Halfway through, stir them round to make sure they are evenly cooked. Serve hot.

Munsterweb website design

In all of our work over the past 2 years to get Good & Green running as a business, one of the most important developments for us outside of the garden itself has been the design, construction and layout of our website. As a marketing tool and means of bringing our smallholding to the public, our website has been invaluable.

We have had so many compliments on the site that I have to give a big mention to the man and the company behind it… William Llŷr Jones (Llŷr to those who can pronounce it, and William to those who have difficulty!) and his website design company – Munsterweb, who are based in Nenagh, Co Tipperary.

At a time (still ongoing) when my attention is largely concerned with the work of the smallholding, Llŷr singlehandedly came up with a format for a site for us that would reflect our business and our style and we all think he did a fantastic job. He also added a bit of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) magic to ensure we can be found in the search engines for relevant keywords and phrases. The result has been a very healthy flow of web traffic – in fact, our website has replaced most of our traditional forms of advertising which has helped keep our marketing costs down.

We are delighted with the layout, the artwork, the links and the use of our photos to show off our work. It has been the single best business tool we have had for potential customers, regular customers, and is great PR when applying for grants, bank loans etc. etc.

I must also add that he has had great patience with me in training a commited technophobe to blog and he set the site up to be very user friendly… that was important for me, with a fear of the technology! So to have ongoing professional backup to keep the site running and update photos is very comforting.


Link: Munsterweb Web Design & SEO Nenagh

Courgette Cake

from ‘100 great recipes – Farmers Market’

A variation of the more familiar carrot cake – the courgette adds sweetness and a moist texture. A half and half mixture with carrots is also an option.

3 free range eggs
75g golden caster sugar
150g self-raising flour
225g courgettes, trimmed and grated
25g butter, melted
25g sultanas

175g full-fat cream cheese (eg Philadelphia)
1tbsp lemon or orange juice
75g icing sugar

1. Preheat oven to 180c,350f or gas mark 4.
2. Lightly oil and line the base of an 8inch round cake tin.
3. Place the eggs and sugar in a large mixing bowl and whisk until very pale and thick.
4.Fold in the courgettes. Carefully fold in the flour. Drizzle over the melted butter and fold in. Add sultanas.
5. Pour into the prepared cake tin and bake for 25-35 mins or until springy to the touch. Cool in the tin for 5 mins before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
6.Beat together the cheese, lemon juice and icing sugar until just combined. Spread over the top of the cake.

variation – substitute 25g ground almonds for 25g of the flour.

Fresh produce from our garden

Our farm gate sales are now up and running 2 months and business is going well.

We harvest every Friday and Saturday to sell from our log cabin beside the garden and tunnel and regular passing trade is building up steadily. Our regular veg box customers are a great core to the business and we very much appreciate their weekly orders.

As the summer progresses the range of produce is increasing – and we are adding new items weekly. The tunnel ensures that we have crops earlier than would be possible outside – and we now have a great range of salads, scallions, potatoes, carrots, courgettes and soon will have cucumbers. We are still topping up our own produce from an organic supplier when we are waiting for our crops, but the garden is doing very well this year and things are coming on quickly.

We still have capacity to take on weekly veg box customers who have the added benefit of 15% free extra produce. So for a box costing 20 euro you get 23 euro produce. If you are interested in joining this scheme you are welcome to get in touch.

Spiced potato & bean salad with roasted red peppers

from Avoca Salads

A substantial salad to have on its own or with barbequed meat or fish. Easy to prepare ahead of time.

3 red peppers, seeded and cut into thick strips
8 tbsps olive oil
500g new potatoes, washed and halved
2 tsps powdered cajun spice
1 can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 bunch scallions, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
2 chillies, finely chopped
1 bunch flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

Preheat to oven to 180c.
Toss the red pepper strips in 2 tbsps olive oil and roast for 10-15mins, turning occasionally. Transfer the peppers to a bowl and cover with clingfilm. Peel when cool enough to handle.

Toss the potatoes in the cajun spice and remaining olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and roast for 30-40 mins or until tender. You need to toss the potatoes once or twice during this time.

When the potatoes are cooked, combine with the beans, scallions, garlic, chilli and roasted peppers. Toss so everyting is well coated. Allow to cool and add the parsley, salt and pepper and toss again.

A BIG thank you to our helpers

Since early Spring we have been constantly busy keeping up with sowing, transplanting, planting out, hoeing, weeding, manuring, rotavating etc. etc. With our new tunnel we have been working extra hard to bring on all our new tunnel crops – tomatoes, cucumbers, french beans etc and the volume of work is a little knee weakening at times… The tunnel is now fully planted and looking good. All the crops are doing well, and, as we approach the summer solstice (the longest day of the year and height of the growing season) we are very pleased with how the garden is going.

At this point I want to thank all the volunteer helpers who have boosted our efforts enormously all year. We have been very lucky to have offers of help from others who are interested in growing and learning and have been very generously giving their time to help us get the garden planted.

Una, Denise and Fiona have been helping us regularly and their help has pushed things along and stopped us running out of steam. Alexander has been with us for the month of June and Mark and Sally came for a day when we were urgent to get outdoor crops into the ground. And of course Jim and Rebecca have helped us time and again in keeping us on track.

It is really nice to have extra hands in, and extra thoughts on the garden and it is a great boost to feel part of a team. So a BIG thank you to you all – and looking forward to sharing our crops with you.