Herb Society Events
Jenny and Cheryl gave some wonderful talks throughout the day on the medicinal and culinary uses of herbs, from the selection in the lovely herb garden at Ryton (see main photo above), and visitors asked lots of questions and were surprised at some of the answers. Even Flick our administrator attended Jenny's first talk of the day to help brush up her herbal knowledge. Jan Greenland was also on hand to answer questions from the public, and presented both Caroline and Sophie with her beautiful and 'trade mark' herbal tussie mussies.
The photo above is of the Herb Society stand. A lot of visitors gathered around the 'Lavender Corner' as well, no surprise really as it smelt heavenly. We recruited 8 new members on the day and we extend a warm welcome to them and look forward to seeing them again soon at future Herb Society events. It was nice to chat to members of the public and Herb Society members that attended, to hear their ideas and talk about the future of the society. The event was so successful that we'll be working with Ryton next year and in subsequent years to make Herb Day an annual event, so if you couldn't make it this year, keep an eye out for next years date!
Judith Hann was on hand to help promote the Herb Society, she told Herb Day visitors about her new regular column in the Herbs journal, and asked them to contact her via the Herb Society, if they have any culinary herb questions, or have a particular herb they would like to see featured. Judith also told visitors about the cookery course she offers at her farm in Gloucestershire, details of her courses can be found over on our diary page in the None Herb Society Herb Events section.
Of course there were herbs to buy on the day, I took a few minutes to wander over to the herb market and buy a few new herbs for my garden from The Cottage Herbery at Tenbury Wells. Rob and Kim Hurst were on the stall offering plenty of help, tips and advice, as well as herb plants, they were also selling herb seeds and salad plants, it was nice to see the gold medal they got from the Chelsea Flower Show in 2006 on display. I picked up a camphor plant, some african blue basil and a tree spinach. I'd like to say a big thank you on behalf of the Herb Society to Kim and Rob for supplying Sophie with the herbs she required for her cookery demonstration.
Sophie Grigson gave another star performance, sharing her cookery tales and tips and her new found love of rapeseed oil whilst demonstrating some delicious recipes, most of which were from her cookbook, Sophie Grigson's Herbs. During her demonstration visitors learnt how to spatchcock a chicken, and got to sample such delights as Beetroot Pilaf with Marigold Petals, Mint and Yoghurt Relish and Elderflower Gin Ice Cream Soda Venetian Style. Sophie has kindly given permission for us to add all the recipes from the day to the website, which you can see below. All round it was a fantastic day, if you missed out this year, next year will be even better so why not join us?
Sophie's Herbalicious Recipes
To make the pilaff, rinse the rice thoroughly, then leave to drain in a sieve. Melt the butter with the oil in a saucepan, then add the onion and fry gently, without browning, until translucent. Add the garlic, cumin seeds, cloves and cinnamon and fry gently for a further minute. Now tip in the rice and stir for one further minute, until slightly translucent. Stir in the turmeric, then add 550 ml (19 fl oz) water, salt and pepper and bring up to the boil. Reduce the heat to very low, cover tightly and leave to cook for 8 minutes.
Stir in the beetroot, then cover again and leave, without stirring for a further 5-8 minutes, until all the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is tender. Set aside a few of the marigold petals for decoration, and stir the rest in. Taste and adjust seasoning, then tip into a warmed serving dish, cover with foil and leave in a low oven (around 110 C/225F/ Gas Mark 1/2) for 10-30 minutes, to dry in its own steam. Just before serving, sprinkle over the remaining marigold petals.
To make the yoghurt relish, fry the garlic in the oil until very lightly browned. Scoop out and stir into the yoghurt with the herbs and salt to taste. Serve at room temperature, to spoon onto the pilau.
Begin by seasoning the tuna steaks with salt and pepper. Set aside. To make the sauce vierge, put the coriander seeds and peppercorns into a heavy based small saucepan, over a moderate heat and dry-fry until they give off a tantalising aroma. Now reduce the heat and add the olive oil first, heat for a few seconds, then stir in the vinegar. Draw off the heat and set aside while you prepare the rest of the dish.
Mix the ingredients for the gremolata, and chop them together until they are very finely chopped. Put into a small bowl, cover and set aside until needed.
To barbecue the tuna steaks, make sure that the embers are white hot and pack a powerful heat. Arrange the rack of the barbecue so that it is fairly close to the heat. Brush the tuna steaks lightly with oil and cook close to the heat, for about 1 1/2-2 minutes on each side, until browned on the outside, but still pink in the centre. To griddle the steaks, put a griddle pan over a high heat and leave for about 4 minutes. Brush the tuna steaks lightly with oil and lay on the griddle pan. Cook for 1 1/2-2 minutes on each side. As they cook, stir the tomato dice into the sauce vierge, and warm through if you wish (but do not let it boil). Lay the tuna on plates, spoon a little of the sauce vierge around and over them, then sprinkle with gremolata and serve with wedges of lemon.
Put the quails, breast side up, into a shallow dish. Mix all the marinade ingredients and pour over. Turn the quails a couple of times to coat in the marinade, then cover and leave for at least 2 hours, but better still, overnight, to absorb the flavours.
To make the mayonnaise, make sure, first of all, that all the ingredients are at room temperature. Put the garlic, chilli and a good pinch of salt in a mortar or sturdy bowl. Pound to a paste with the pestle, or the end of a rolling pin, and work in the egg yolk and lemon juice. Mix the oils together in a jug. Wrap a slightly damp tea towel round the base of the mortar or bowl to help to keep it steady. Whisking constantly, start adding the oil, drop by drop at first. When about 1/3 of it has been incorporated, you can up the flow ever so slightly, turning it into a slow trickle. Continue adding the oil until it is all whisked in and a glossy cushion of golden mayonnaise reclines in the bowl. Taste and adjust seasoning adding more salt or lemon juice as needed. Cover and keep cool until the quails are cooked.
To cook the quails, pre-heat the grill or barbecue thoroughly. Grill the quails, breast-side to heat first, for about 7-10 minutes, turning once or twice, until cooked through. Serve piping hot with the mayonnaise.
Put the elderflowers in a large bowl or basin. Place sugar in a pan with 2 pints (a generous litre) of water and bring gently up to the boil, stirring until sugar has dissolved. Pour over the elderflowers and stir in the citric acid. Grate in the zest of the lemons, then slice lemons and add the slices to the bowl too. Cover and leave for 24 hours. Strain through double muslin, bottle in sterilised bottles and store in a cool dark place.
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