Whether you are preparing food for a street party, or just a long bank holiday feast, there is much to celebrate with in the Garden this week.
My urban garden - in a modest NW London Terrace - is now ablaze with Roses, standing majestically over the baby vegetables and fruits. The first strawberries are showing, which if I can resist temptation would make a stunning jam, made even more special using rose scented sugar (Clean two or three rose heads, as fragrant roses as you can find, layering their dry petals between castor sugar. Leave at least 24 hours and use after discarding the petals). The floral notes of the strawberry mingle with the rose – a sum far greater than the individual parts, and something so quintessentially English.
The end of May is a busy time, my Tomato Plants - Brandywine Black, Orange Banana, Oxheart Pinks – chosen as much for their fantastic names and colours as their flavours - have been planted out in the sunniest spot. Potimarron squash with it’s rich chestnut flavour, joined Turks Turban framed under the Passionflower and Honeysuckle, and last minute sowings of Chioggia Beetroot (by far the most visually interesting beet, with bulls-eye concentric red and white rings) will give summer salads of goats cheese an earthy counterbalance.
The other big celebration this week is the first pickings of baby vegetables: horticultural infanticide is not always a good thing, but the first peas, tiny broad beans in the pod, and carrots no bigger than a stub pencil, make the purest of soups. Simmered in a deep savoury stock, and a handful of rice for ballast, you have early summer in a bowl – now that is something else worth celebrating.
Do leave me your comments or tweet me on Twitter @shanehollanduk Have a delicious week!