Recipes from the garden
Elderflower syrup: Elder grows like a weed. It is in fact a pest plant in the region, so I can’t advocate planting it, but I can recommend picking the flowers to make drinks because the more flowers are picked, the fewer berries left for birds to spread.
Elderflowers can be dried to make tea over the winter – good for flu apparently – or preserved in this sugary syrup. It’s a great summer non-alcoholic thirst quencher made with soda and a touch of citrus or cucumber, or frozen into a delicate, delicious sorbet.
Elderflowers are best picked when just open.
Here is the River Cottage recipe – note it has 1kg of sugar. You can replace some of that with honey if you prefer, as in this Jamie Oliver recipe. Elderflowers have a very short season but if you miss them, you can always support local business Kāpiti Kitchen by buying their elderflower cordial.
Summer pudding: A great cold pudding to make 2-3 days ahead. Use any types of berries and currants, and if you don’t have enough in your garden a berry picking trip up the coast is always a good day out. (Call Penray’s ahead to check as availability is often limited before Christmas). If you don’t have enough fresh berries, thawed frozen ones work too. Use a mixture - redcurrants add a bit of acidity, raspberries and strawberries for sweetness. Serve with yogurt, cream or icecream.
Nigella Lawson: “We line a pudding base and shape with, I'm afraid to say, generally pretty awful bread. It's white bread. You line a pudding base, then you lodge the bread against it. You fill it with this mixture of bruised red fruits, a little sugar, maybe a little teeny bit of lemon.
You put a lid on again with some bread. You put mini-weights -- a can of beans, it doesn't matter what -- and you leave it for 3 days. All the juices soak through the bread, making it scarlet. It's like a scarlet sponge. Then you slice it. It slices messily but deliciously, and you have it with cream.”
Winter salads:Try these combinations:
- lettuce, orange and avocado with mustard/rocket
- roast pumpkin with radishes and cress/coriander/rocket
- roast beetroot with mustard/cress and feta
- grapefruit chunks with radish/rocket/mustard and nuts/seeds
Landcress is a great Kapiti green; it tastes like watercress but grows in a rosette form, self-seeding every winter. Make a quick silverbeet or landcress soup: gently fry onions and garlic, add thinly sliced potato and cover with stock. Simmer until potatoes crumble. Add cooked/canned white beans if you like them. Add washed greens and cook just a few minutes so they keep their bright green colour. Whizz with a stick blender and serve.