Well here in London we have the start of the season, as it’s called, with the Chelsea Flower Show opening this week (19th May 2014) and everybody who is anyone is here. Let’s be clear, although the Chelsea Flower Show is the Wimbledon of gardening, certainly for the gardeners who work their socks off and the great and the good (whoever they are!) for those able to get tickets its a chance to see and be seen. I’ve been to the Chelsea Flower Show about four or five times many years ago and never seen so many posers in my life. There was one year where it was pouring with rain and sensible people like me who dressed for the weather were outnumbered by those who dressed for the occasion (silk puffball skirts, which dates it quite firmly) who were knee deep in mud leaving their pumps caked in mud still posing!!
I digress, its also the start of spring vegetables, although I probably missed a few weeks this year due to being so ill. If you are lucky enough to live near a greengrocer who sells spring garlic, or even if you’ve got a large flowerpot on a balcony, a bit of garden, however small I urge you to grow garlic which is very easy to grow. In late January/February you may notice the garlic you have in your kitchen starts sprouting green shoots, if you separate the cloves and plant them in a pot or in the ground they will grow quite happily. In fact once planted it doesn’t need much attention at all, just watering. You can get seeds but they take a long time and a lot of gardening experience, which I don’t have. I’m afraid I garden with my stomach in mind. At this time of year garlic is sensational and every part of it is edible, the leaves, the stalks can be finely chopped and added to your favourite dishes in the same way you would add the garlic cloves. As we’re entering summer I will give you my recipe for garlic butter which you can freeze to use as and when you want to add a little something extra to a dish, or it will keep for a week or so in the fridge.
3-4 garlic leaves or 1 stem of finely chopped garlic
200g or 4oz salted butter
Good pinch of Thyme
Good pinch of Majoram
pinch of pepper
Mix all the ingredients together well and cut a baguette diagonally spreading a bit on each slice or whatever bread you would normally use, place in an oven at gas mark 6, 1800C for 15 minutes. The reason I use salted butter is because it is perfectly seasoned and does not need any further salt. This is a recipe I invented myself when I was at the tender age of 8 a million years ago and have never changed in all that time. At that time my father who, although now passed away some years ago, was impressed, although he gave me, what I can only describe as a backhanded chef’s compliment, he said it wasn’t quite how a chef would do it, but not bad for a first attempt. I promise you that you will never eat shop bought garlic bread again.