One crop that persistently does well in the North, whatever the summer weather, is glorious garlic. I am always asked what crops can be planted now and the answers are pretty limited, unless you have access to a greenhouse or polytunnel. But garlic is one crop that gets planted, depending on which of the many varieties you choose, from September onwards.
Neat rows of upright ‘garlic soldiers’ grace the vegetable plot throughout the coldest days of winter, quietly bulking up till harvest time in July/August.
Before you get all excited and delve into the salad drawer to find those neglected sprouting garlic bulbs, it’s crucial that you plant virus-free bulbs that can be purchased from your local nursery or garden centre – or, for an amazing array of garlic varieties, visit The Garlic Farm online.
They’re based on the Isle of Wight and along with selling unusual hard neck and soft neck varieties, such as Spanish Rocambole and Elephant garlic, they have a wealth of information on the website including a Garlic Growing Calendar.
When your garlic bulbs arrive, it’s simply a case of splitting the bulbs into individual cloves and planting each clove, pointed end upwards 3cm deep and 15cm apart. Do very little except admire your little soldiers and keep the garlic plot weed-free. Then, come late summer, you can enjoy your very own garlic fest.
It’s worth bearing in mind that hard neck varieties don’t store well (soft neck varieties do), so recipes that use up heads of garlic are the order of the day. The longer and slower you cook garlic, the mellower and sweeter the taste is, so don’t think you’ll be enlisted to be fight off vampires the next day.
Here are two of my favourite garlic recipes >>
MOJO DE AJO (Mexican garlic sauce)
A fabulous recipe from a favourite old cookbook, Cook by Thomasina Miers.
2 whole bulbs, peeled and chopped in a food processor
200ml olive oil
1 tsp chipotle paste (or 3 red chillies seeded and chopped)
Lime juice and salt and pepper to taste
Heat the olive oil on the gentlest heat possible and sweat the garlic for 20 minutes until it’s soft and caramelised – do not burn or the garlic and oil will taste bitter.
Add the chillies or chipotle paste and cook for another minute or two.
Remove from the heat and season with a squeeze of lime juice and salt and pepper.
Store in a sealed container/jar in the fridge for up to two weeks.
Use to top pan-fried steaks or prawns.
CARAMELISED GARLIC & BUTTERNUT SQUASH TART WITH GLUTEN-FREE PASTRY
We have a lot of people attending our courses now who are trying to limit or omit gluten from their diets, so experimentation with pastry recipes for our gluten-free baking course resulted in some delightful melt-in-the-mouth pastry cases.
GLUTEN-FREE PASTRY CASE:
450g gluten-free flour
50g gram (chickpea flour)
200g unsalted butter, cold
1 egg, beaten
1 tbsp ice-cold water
1 tbsp fresh tarragon, finely chopped or 1 tsp dried tarragon
1 butternut squash/onion squash
3 bulbs of garlic, cloves peeled
1 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp cider vinegar
100g feta cheese, cubed
3 eggs beaten
150g plain goat’s yogurt/Greek yogurt
1 tbsp chopped fresh tarragon or 1 tsp dried tarragon
Mix the flours in a large bowl. Dice the butter and rub into the flour until fine breadcrumbs are formed. Add a little more flour if you are struggling to reach the crumble stage – a lot depends on which gluten-free flour you are using.
Mix in the egg using a knife and only add the ice-cold water if the pastry does not come together into a ball. Roll out the pastry between two sheets of greaseproof paper and use to line eight individual tartlet tins, or one large 20cm tart tin. Place in the fridge to chill while you make the filling.
Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees. Cut the butternut squash into wedges, leaving the skin on and remove the seeds. Roast the butternut squash in the oven with a little drizzle of olive oil and some salt and pepper for 45 minutes, or until tender. Allow to cool a little, then remove the skin and cut into bite-sized chunks.
Line the pastry cases with parchment and fill with baking beans. Bake for 10 minutes, then remove the paper and bake uncovered for 10 minutes more, or until the case is crisp. Remove from the oven.
Meanwhile, pop the peeled garlic cloves into a small saucepan with a couple of tablespoons of water. Simmer gently until the garlic is almost tender, then add the butter and increase the heat and cook until the water has almost evaporated and the garlic has just started to brown.
Reduce the heat and add the syrup, vinegar and salt and pepper, and simmer very gently until the cloves are coated in a dark syrup, but are still intact – not mush!
Mix the yogurt with the beaten eggs and tarragon (if using dried) in a jug. Arrange the butternut squash on the tart base, then pour over the yogurt/egg mix and dot with the feta cubes.
Scatter over the caramelised garlic and any syrup. Sprinkle with the chopped fresh tarragon if you haven’t used dried.
Reduce the oven temperature to 170 degrees and bake for 30 minutes until browned and set.
RICK PICKINGS FROM THE GARDEN >>
Madness reigns in the kitchen at this time of year as the battle to harvest and preserve all your hard- earned fruit and veg commences. Curses are heard as jellies overboil on to hobs, faces are steamed to a spa-like glow as blanching water for vegetables is constantly simmered, and shelves in the larder need reinforcement under the weight of the ruby, amber and golden jars of preserves. How did Felicity Kendal manage to look radiant throughout the ‘Good Life’ while you resemble a reddened banshee, with plum and cherry-stained hands and frazzled hair?
But, come a cold day in January and February, when sizzling sausages are smothered in homemade plum and chilli jelly, it will all have been worth it!
UPCOMING COURSES @ LINNELS FARM
‘BAKE OFF THE PROFESSIONALS’ COOKERY DEMO >> SUN 1 SEPT
Bernadett and Richard recently competed in Channel 4’s hugely successful ‘Bake Off The Professionals’ and run their very successful Dreamworld Cakes Patisserie in Ouseburn Valley. Sit back and marvel as they demonstrate all the techniques needed to reproduce one of their signature desserts, chocolate and caramel tart. There will be a tasting session and plenty of time to ask about their experience.
ANNUAL BULB SALE >> SAT 28 & SUN 29 SEPT
We import amazing varieties of beautiful tulips, scented narcissi, towering alliums and other little beauties. Spend a relaxing time choosing which beautiful bulbs will adorn your garden in spring. Planting advice on bulb choice and colour combinations is available. Coffee and cake with proceeds to St Oswald’s Hospice.
MINIATURE FELT PUMPKINS WITH SANDY HATTON >> TUES 8 OCT
Come along and learn the traditional craft of needle felting and create your very own miniature pumpkin. It really is a fascinating craft to learn and you’ll depart with the skills to continue felting at home. From 9.30am – 1pm, including morning coffee and homemade cakes. All equipment will be provided.
BEAUTIFUL BASKETS – WILLOW WORKSHOP WITH PHIL BRADLEY >> THURS 10 OCT
Phil Bradley is a basket-maker and willow-grower in West Cumbria. He has been making baskets and all manner of willow sculptures since 1992. On this course you will learn all the techniques required to produce your own willow basket to take home with you. All tools and materials will be provided.
SPRING POTS AND CONTAINERS >> FRI 11 OCT
Bring along your favourite pot/container on this day workshop and you’ll depart with it fully planted ready for a stunning spring display. From indoor displays of heady hyacinths, to coffee cups of crocus and wine boxes of scented narcissi, massed meadows of tulips and camassia, we’ll discover the drama and interest that bulbs can bring to the house and garden throughout the year. From 10am-3pm, including coffee/cakes and two-course lunch.
For further details visit: linnelsfarm.com