The Joy of Spring Flowers and Food
This post is really by way of a thank you to the lovely members of the Midlands and North West Flowers From the Farm who made the journey to join me for a Joy of Spring Flowers Workshop last Wednesday. A classic spring day with our table set in our building site come workshop, come home, and lulled by the warmth of the day time flew – and somehow I forgot a few names of the tulips I had grown in my cut flower garden! Hmm, but those who know me, this will come as no surprise! As always lulled by a new colour, shape or texture, when I started out making my spring garden, somehow their names seemed secondary. But always thinking and reassessing this journey through flowers, I now realise the huge meaning of remembering the name of a tulip. It’s ridiculous, of course you need to remember the name – it’s what the flower is, what it means and feels is not just about the colour, texture, shape and place in an arrangment, it’s a part of the history of the Tulip. Anyway, feeling slightly shamefaced, I wanted to thank you all for your patience – and now I can confirm the names of those I missed last Wednesday, as well as a few not included in my notes! The missing names were: Tulip Sapporo, Tulip Ballade, Tulip Antraciet, Tulip Flaming Purrissima, Tulip Havarn, Tulip Charming Lady, Tulip La Belle Epoque, Tulip Elegant Lady, Tulip Up Rosar, Tulip Black Hero, Tulip Apricot Parrot, Tulip Peaches and Cream, Tulip Montreaux and Tulip Carnival de Nice.
Spring flowers are easy to love, and it makes growing them so much more worthwhile being able to share them, especially in the sun, and so I have included a few photos of some of the most favourite varieties from last Wednesday, and some of a his and hers order from last week.
Again, it’s no surprise to some, but flowers and food go well together too – so after a few requests below are the recipes for my rhubarb cake and potato, cheese and onion pie I served last Wednesday.
Rhubarb pudding cake, from Cakes by Pam Corbin (my cake bible!)
23cm ring tin, well greased
250g rhubarb, sliced into 5mm pieces
200g self raising flour, plus 1 tbsp for dusting
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
125g unslated butter
50g Custard powder or cornflour
175g caster sugar
150ml plain yoghurt
2 tsp vanilla extract
1tbsp rose water (optional)
Custard or clotted cream to serve
Preheat oven to 180C/Gas mark 4. Put the rhubarb into a bowl, sprinkle with 1 scant tdsp self-raising flour and toss until the pieces are all covered.
Sift the flour, custard powder or cornflour and bicarbonate of soda together into a bowl. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, using either a wooden spoon or electric whisk, beat the butter to a cream. Add the sugar and beat together until very light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, adding 1 tbsp flour mix with each, and beating thoroughly before adding the next. Stir in the yoghurt, vanilla extract and rose water – if using. Fold in the remaining flour followed by sliced rhubarb.
Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin, levelling the surface with the back of the spoon or giving the tin a sharp tap on the work surface to level the mix.
Bake in the oven for 40-45 mins until the cake is well risen and springs back into shape when lightly pressed. Leave in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool.
Serve either warm or cold with custard, or cold just as is or with a dollop of clotted cream.
Cheddar Cheese ad Onion Pie: Tamasin Day-Lewis (serves 6 – I quadrupled this recipe)
Shortcrust pastry: I use a shortcrust recipe from Elizabeth David’s French Provincial Cooking
For the filling:
1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
285g good strong cheddar, coarsley grated (I used Montgomerys)
110g potatoes, peeled, steemed and diced
2 large eggs
4 tbsp double cream
spring of thyme or bunch of flat leaf parsley
pinch of cayenne pepper
sea salt and pepper
Beaten egg for glaze
Preheat oven to 220c/gas mark 7
Divde your pastry into 2 balls, keeping on elarger than the other. Melt the butter in a pan and gently fry until translucent, then leave to cool. Throw the onions into a bowl with the grated cheese, potato, eggs, cream, thyme or parsley and the seasoning, and mix thoroughly with the seasoning.
Roll out the large ball of pastry and line a shallow, greased 23cm tart tin. Tip the cheese and onion mixture into the pastry shell. Moistenthe edges of the pastry and cover with the rolled out top piece, crimping the edges together. Brush the beaten eggs over the top and bake for 30 – 40 minutes until crisp and golden brown. You can sweat leeks instead of onions, or add buttered apple slices instead of potato!