Category Archives: Spring
Well it’s a long time coming – Spring, that is! Every morning I eagerly look for little bulbs to emerge or a sprinkling of delicate blossom. But Winter is clinging on, long overstaying its welcome in my view. Just this week I’ve seen more flurries of snow. The perfect food for this weather – when you are longing for fresh Spring flavours but still need some warmth and comfort – is a big pot of mussels, steamed with wine, garlic, fresh green herbs and a dash of cream. And some crusty bread of course! What do you think?
Mussel shells are so beautiful, aren’t they? That inky blackness and the sparkling reflections on the wet shells. Makes you dream of the sea.
Mussels are very quick and easy to cook. The only slighty troublesome bit is taking the time to clean the mussels and pull off the little seaweed like beards. But this is a contemplative task, an opportunity to sit at the kitchen table or stand at the sink and reflect on your day while you work. It is also a great task to dish out if someone asks what they can do to help!
So this is how I like to cook mussels. You will need:
2-3 shallots, or a small red onion, finely chopped
a knob of butter, about 25g
a large glassful of white wine, about a quarter of a bottle
a generous spoonful, or three, of double cream (you can leave this out – it’s still nice, just not as deliciously decadent)
a handful of fresh herbs, parsley is especially nice
Rinse the mussels under cold water. Give them a little scrub if necessary, and pull out the little beards. Discard any broken mussels
In a large heavy pot, gently soften the shallots or onions in the butter. Add the wine and let it bubble away and reduce down for about 5 minutes. Dump the mussels into the pot, cover tightly with a lid and allow to steam for about 3 minutes. Check and see if the mussels are all open and just cooked. If so, take the pot off the heat – 0therwise continue steaming for a minute or so longer. Pour over the cream and sprinkle on the herbs and stir together. That’s it! Your mussels are ready to enjoy with lots of crusty bread to soak up the lovely sauce. I often make some chips to go with the mussels too – the classic match made in heaven.
And look! I did find a few sprigs of blossom!
I’ve been working on some interesting projects over the past couple of months – hope to share more about that soon.
Hope you are all well – drop me a comment and let me know!
Is anything as uplifting and joyful as that first exuberant burst of blossom in early Spring? My spirit soars when I meander down the village lanes accompanied by clouds of gentle blossom – and new buds giving the promise of more to come. My appreciation of the seasons seems to intensify each year since we came to live in the English countryside. And of all the seasonal changes, the colour and light of Spring is especially welcome. Walking to the village school with our son and his little friends each morning, I point out all the little blooms and buds. But little boys are really much more interested in discussing Lego and trains!
Never mind, on the walk back home I can linger a bit, perhaps with my camera, and perhaps to find a blossom or two to make a Spring posy.
When the sun is shining, I love to take my lunch out into the garden. What to cook? I think some classic fishcakes are just the thing, with a fresh salad on the side. Golden and crispy, delicate yet satisfying. I made these with Haddock, but you can use any firm white fish (without bones) or if you are feeling indulgent, with crab or little prawns. All delicious!
Out comes the trusty folding table. It’s actually a decorating table that’s never been used for wallpapering – much more useful to pop open for an impromptu lunch! A bit of white lace, my jar of flowers … and it’s ready for service.
Things have been quite busy of late and I have lots of projects on the go. And getting to know this new garden is one of those projects. All sorts of surprises are emerging – little primroses dotting the grass like jewels, cheerful daffodils, tulips and the first signs of peonies. It’s very exciting.(To me!)
More soon. x
Did you know that the official month of cherries (at least according to the cherry promoters in the lovely state of Michigan) is February? I know, it’s a bit surprising for all of us in the northern hemisphere, clad in the endless, dull vestiges of winter. Yes, the cherry – that gorgeous, vibrant little stone fruit that is so evocative of sunshine, of light dappled leafy trees – is feted with a national month in February. But why not? I thought about it and it makes sense. We need a hit of cherry, of brightness and delight at this time of year. It’s true it is not the time for home grown seasonal cherries, but cherries do preserve very well and a jar of cherry sauce made from summer fruit can deliver that vibrance right to our winter kitchens. Just when we need it most.
Our youngest child is always asking me to make (with his help, of course) two particular things in the kitchen. One is pasta. He’s crazy about that hand crank pasta machine. The other is ice cream. And it’s never too chilly for ice cream according to him. So why not use some cherries (cherry puree or sauce) to swirl in with a yummy soft frozen white chocolate cream – a semifreddo. Delicious.
Do you like these roses? Amazing colour. A strong peachy orange when I got them, they lasted for ages fading into lovely pinky shades. I actually found their faded petals most beautiful of all.
Since I began with the ice cream and these photographs, a few days have ticked us over into March. It feels like the green shoots of spring are all over and I am very excited about that. Little bulbs emerging, even some glowy sunlight today.
I’ll be back soon, with lots of springtime inspiration.
Please drop me a comment – if you would like to -when you visit. And send me a link to your site or blog as I love to see what you are cooking and making too.