Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Signs of Spring

Crocuses, lots of snowdrops still (saw the first on January 2nd and they are still going) and daffs not open yet, little knobs of blossom budding along the blackthorn twigs and just about to break.... but the real sign of spring is that my kitchen is now warm enough for breadmaking to happen quickly and enjoyably. I made a batch last week and it rose so quickly I could feel it under my fingers. Whereas the last few batches I've baked had to be planned over two days to allow the dough to rise overnight - and even then, one lot was a bit flat and heavy. This batch is fine - granary loaves, poppy-seed rolls, rye bread and some apricot buns.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Risotto with Nettles by Anna Del Conte

This is a terrific book - a memoir with recipes - which I noticed at my local library (and here's a cheer for local libraries - defend them against the cuts!) the day after I had written my Wild Brews column for Smallholder's April edition.

The thing is, my column was mainly about nettles, including a recipe for Risotto Alle Ortiche - Nettle risotto. That's why her title kind of hit me in the eye as I came up the stairs to the upper library and saw her book displayed.

My recipe version is a little different from hers though, mainly in the addition of a glass of wine to the rice at the translucent stage, and being slightly less buttery. I learnt mine in the Abruzzo, whereas hers comes from further north, in Piedmonte: that may account for it as pasturage is poorer further south.

Foraging in the fields, and foraging in libraries, bookshops and on my own over-crowded shelves are not disimilar activities.