Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Quick (unseasonal) salad for a spring day

Just remembered about this salad the other day as we had friends round for our first bbq of the season.  I use up any gluts of perpetual spinach or strawberries from the garden, but on this occasion had bought some from the shops.  It's still too early for strawberries or spinach in Aberdeenshire, although our rhubarb is going full throttle right now.

Strawberry and Spinach Salad

Strawberries - as much as you'd like, washed, cored and halfed
Spinach - again as much as you need, washed and spun in a salad spinner

Poppyseed Dressing

1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup oil - I use Ola organic rapeseed oil, but any light oil would do
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
2 tablespoons sesame seeds - toasted gives the best flavour
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon Lea & Perrins (worcestershire) sauce
1 clove of garlic minced
salt and pepper

Put all the ingredients in a jam jar and shake until mixed, season with salt and pepper to taste.  Toss together strawberries and spinach with dressing just before serving.

Friday, 1 April 2011

April 2011

We are just waiting for the garden to burst into life.  The clocks changed and we are now back to British Summertime, which really makes a huge difference to the evenings (yay!).

Peas and beans seedlings are doing well, and about to be transplanted out of their seed trays and into bigger pots, ready to go in the polytunnel.  P and I have been planning a re-landscaping of part of the garden, including using railway sleepers, granite cassies and some decking to change the levels and add some more interest to that part of the garden.   These are two beds that we established when we first moved here, and now after about 8 years they are overgrown with weeds and too ramshackle to retrieve.

before - tired and overgrown!

One of my twitter friends @4everequine has asked for my favourite shortbread recipe, which I have copied below - it's not actually my Mum's recipe which I can't find for the moment, but another one I have written in my personal recipe book.  I'd forgotten how good homemade shortbread is, so am going to make some this afternoon - it can be an end of school/start of the holidays treat for the kids when they get home!  I think the addition of the brown sugar and almonds give this a slightly toffee-y taste, it's delicious.

125g slightly salted butter, softened
50g soft brown sugar
half teaspoon natural vanilla extract
150g plain flour
25g ground almonds
caster sugar for sprinkling

Cream butter and sugar - blend in the vanilla and then work in your sieved flour and almonds.  Shape into a circular tin and decorate with a fork into petticoat tails pattern.  Chill in the fridge for at least an hour and then bake for 30 minutes at 160oC - leave to cool in the tin before sprinkling with sugar and cutting into 'tails'.

I like to overcook mine a wee bit, as the lovely darker brown edges are my favourite.  Best eaten when still warm with a cup of tea (of course).