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We’ve been inspired to collect the recipes of some of the yummy things our garden produce has been transformed into. From tasty salsas and spicy curries to smooth soups and sprightly salads, we hope there will be something to inspire your own cooking. Once we have more recipes we’ll organise them seasonally. In the meantime, get cooking……

Nettle soup (River cottage recipe)

Serves 4

Half a carrier bagful of stinging nettle tops, or fresh-looking larger leaves

50g butter / olive oil

1 large onion (or a dozen crow garlic bulbs if you want to be truly wild), peeled and finely chopped

1 litre vegetable or chicken stock, or even light fish stock

1 large potato, peeled and cut into cubes

1 large carrot, peeled and chopped

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

A few drops of extra-virgin olive oil

A few drops of Tabasco



Wearing rubber gloves, sort through the nettles, discarding anything you don’t like the look of and any thick stalks. Wash the nettles and drain in a colander.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan, add the onion and cook gently for 5-7 minutes until softened.

Add the stock, nettles, potato and carrot. Bring to a simmer and cook gently until the potato is soft, about 15 minutes.

Remove from the heat. Using an electric hand-held stick blender, purée the soup and then season with salt and pepper to taste.

Ladle into warmed bowls, swirl in a few drops of extra-virgin olive oil and Tabasco.

Can adda dollop of creme fraich and tabasco, swirl in.


North African Squash and chickpea stew

(thanks to River Cottage Veg everyday )


  • 2 tablespoons of oil
  • 2 large onions, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed or finely chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, finely diced
  • 1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon of ground turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon of cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon of ginger
  • 100g of red lentils
  • 400g tin of chickpeas – drained
  • 8 saffron strands – toasted and crushed
  • 500ml passata
  • A handful of parsley
  • A large bunch of coriander
  • 500g squash
  • 1.2l of vegetable stock

Preparation method

  1. Heat the oil in a large pan on a medium heat.
  2. Add the onions and sauté until just turning golden, then turn the heat down slightly.
  3. Add the chopped garlic, celery, pepper, turmeric, cinnamon and ginger, and continue to sauté for a few minutes.
  4. Add the lentils, chickpeas, saffron, tomato sauce, parsley and half the coriander, then cook on a low heat for 15 minutes.
  5. Peel the squash, get rid of any seeds and cut into chunky cubes. Add it to the pan with the vegetable stock and cover with a lid. Leave to simmer for around 20- 30 minutes until the squash is tender.
  6. Season to taste and serve, adding the rest of the coriander leaves as a garnish.


Penny’s bread recipe

The bread I make is based on the Sullivan Street Bakery method.  A chap I met on holiday gave it to me 3 years ago and it has transformed my relationship with bread.     It sounds a bit fiddly but once you have mastered the principles, you will be producing fresh bread for yourself, whenever you have the time.
I usually bake two loaves at once – cut into portions and freeze what I’m not immediately using.
It uses a slow rise method so you need to be a little organised.  I usually mix it the night before I want to cook it.  It says 12 hours to rise but I often leave it longer.
  • 430g bread flour (I mix wholemeal/white/oats and within the total weight include about 30g of seeds or a herb like rosemary)
  • 345g/12 floz water
  • 1g yeast
  • 8g salt (I reduce this to about 6g)
  • olive oil to coat bowls
  • extra flour for dusting.
  • Two mixing bowls
  • 6-8 quart pot with lid (Pyrex glass, Le Creuset cast iron or ceramic)
  • wooden spoon/plastic spatula
  • plastic wrap
  • cotton dish towel

1) Mix together the ingredients.  It produces a sloppy dough so no good if you want the “kneading” experience!

2) Coat a bowl with a little bit of olive oil.  Transfer the dough into the bowl and cover with plastic clingfilm.

3) Leave this for 12 -18  hours preferably in a warmish place

4) Remove the dough (using a spatula) onto a floured breadboard and fold  the dough over a couple of times.

5) Leave for 15 minutes

6) Toss the bread in flour, oatmeal.  You can leave it in a bowl or on the board. Cover with teatowel

7) After 1 hr 30 mins put your overproof pot (with lid) into the oven.  Temp as high as you can….

8) After 2 hrs remove the pot (using oven gloves), transfer the dough

9) Let it cook for 30 mins.

10) At this point take the lid off and see how the bread is going.

11) You can cook it another 5 – 10 minutes without the lid on – but you need to be on hand to monitor it.



Elderflower cordial     The sweetly scented, creamy-white flowers of the elder tree appear in abundance in hedgerows, scrub, woodlands and wasteland at the beginning of summer. The fresh flowers make a terrific aromatic cordial. They are best gathered just as the many tiny buds are beginning to open, and some are still closed. Gather on a warm, dry day (never when wet), checking the perfume is fresh and pleasing. Trees do differ and you will soon get to know the good ones. Remember to leave some flowers for elderberry picking later in the year.


  • About 25 elderflower heads
  • Finely grated zest of 3 unwaxed lemons and 1 orange, plus their juice (about 150ml in total)
  • 1kg sugar
  • 1 heaped tsp citric acid (optional)

Makes about 2 litres


  • Inspect the elderflower heads carefully and remove any insects. Place the flower heads in a large bowl together with the orange and lemon zest.
  • Bring 1.5 litres water to the boil and pour over the elderflowers and citrus zest. Cover and leave overnight to infuse.
  • Strain the liquid through a scalded jelly bag or piece of muslin and pour into a saucepan. Add the sugar, the lemon and orange juice and the citric acid (if using).
  • Heat gently to dissolve the sugar, then bring to a simmer and cook for a couple of minutes.
  • Use a funnel to pour the hot syrup into sterilised bottles. Seal the bottles with swing-top lids, sterilised screw-tops or corks.

A River Cottage recipe



Gooseberry ice-cream

Gooseberry ice cream

500g gooseberries
125g caster sugar
250ml double cream 
125ml whole milk
2 large egg yolks

Put the gooseberries and 65g of the sugar in a large pan with a trickle of water – just enough to cover the base of the pan (don’t add water if you’re using frozen berries). Stir over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved, bring to a gentle simmer and cook for 10-15 minutes, until the berries are completely soft and mostly broken. Rub through a sieve into a bowl, and discard the skins and pips. As soon as the puree is completely cool, chill in the fridge.

Combine half the cream with the milk in a pan and bring to just below boiling point. Whisk the egg yolks with the remaining sugar, then pour the hot milk and cream on to them, whisking all the time. Return this custard to the pan and stir over a gentle heat until it thickens. Remove from the heat, pour through a sieve into a clean bowl and cover the surface with clingfilm or greaseproof paper, to stop a skin forming. Leave until completely cool, then chill.

Combine the custard with the puree.

Very lightly whip the remaining double cream, just until it holds soft peaks (if you make it too stiff, it will be hard to fold in), and fold into the gooseberry custard. Taste and add sugar if you think it needs it – it should taste a little too sweet because its sweetness will be muted once it’s frozen.

Pour into an ice-cream machine, churn until soft-set, then transfer to the freezer to freeze completely. Alternatively, pour the mix into a plastic container and freeze for about an hour or until the sides start to get solid; once this happens, mash with a fork, mixing the frozen sides into the liquid centre, and return to the freezer for another hour. Repeat this twice more at hourly intervals, then leave to set solid. Remove from the freezer about 30 minutes before serving, to soften a little.

Could easily substitute other seasonal fruits eg jostaberries or red or black currants.


Pumpkin halwa ~ a Ganapati recipe

Serves around 15

2 kg pumpkin (about half a medium sized pumpkin)

3 tablespoons ghee (you could use vegetable ghee if you prefer)

1 ½ litre whole milk

750g sugar

5g powdered cardamom seeds

20g rice flour (optional)

3 tablespoons golden sultanas

A little extra ghee for frying sultanas


Peel the pumpkin and remove the seeds.

If you want to keep the seeds, wash and dry them and keep in a warm, dry place for a few hours. For a special, but time-consuming treat, peel the seeds and garnish the halwa with some of them. They are incredibly tasty.

Peel and grate the flesh. In a large heavy bottomed saucepan, heat the ghee and add the grated pumpkin. Saute on a medium to high heat until the pumpkin starts to break down. You will need to keep moving it around the pan.

Add the milk, stir and bring to the boil. Continue to stir until the pumpkin mixture starts to thicken. This will take about 30 minutes, and you need to beware of the halwa bubbling and spitting. It is important that you keep stirring at this point.

Add the sugar and mix in. The pudding will become glossy and richer in colour. It will also be very smooth in texture. Add the cardamom powder too. The rice flour can also go in at this point. This will help tighten the mixture if it is a bit loose.

In a small frying pan, heat a tablespoon of ghee. Add the sultanas and let them swell into little balls. (Don’t let them change colour though). As this happens, pour the ghee and sultanas into the pumpkin and stir in.

Garnish with pumpkin seeds, and serve hot with a dollop of crème fraiche.



Tomatillo salsa


  • 400g raw tomatillos, husks removed & rinsed well
  • 1 small red onion, finely diced
  • 1-2 chillies (depending on heat preference)
  • 20g fresh coriander
  • zest & juice of 1 lime
  • 1 small garlic clove
  • 1 tsp of brown sugar
  • sea salt


  1. Mix the finely diced onion with the juice and zest of the lime and the sugar, and leave to sit in a shallow bowl for 30 mins; the acid from the lime takes away the raw edge of the onions.
  2. Coarsely chop the tomatillos and chillies.
  3. Finely mince the garlic into a paste with a pinch of salt and roughly chop the coriander. Mix all the ingredients together and season well with a little more salt, tasting as you go and adding more lime or sugar if needed.



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