Sunday, 13 May 2012

In and out the garden...and rhubarb peanut-butter streusel

The woods are looking a bit wild at the moment but the bluebells are blooming and everything in the garden is waking up from hibernation, including the little winged and crawling creatures.  The kitchen is busy with more nettle soup, earthy mushroom risotto,oranges and greens,an adaptation of Ina Garton's peanut butter jelly bar recipe and a drink made from dried sour berries brought from Iran.  

The sun is shining, I've deleted about four hundred unsolicited emails, unsubscribed to about fifty mailing lists, received a surprise parcel from one of my lovely sisters...with a cute coat inside that even Jane Austin would be proud of, plus a little note saying that she was turning into me every time she wore it and had to send it to me...I'll take that as a compliment! I love was so sweet of her.I have the best sisters. 

But best of all H is coming home for the weekend and I've got the first Saturday off work since January...It can't get much better in our little corner...


The Ina Garten peanut butter jelly recipe is  one that I wrote down from her cookery show The Barefoot Contessa a few years ago. It's a bit like a German streusel recipe with a cake base made with peanut butter; a layer of jam and then a layer of the same base batter crumbled on top with a handful of salty peanuts to make a crunchy tasty topping with bits of jam bubbling out. 

I use crunchy peanut butter and omit the extra peanuts on top. Just because that's what we always have in the house. We're not so keen on the cloying roof-of-the-mouth-sticking smooth kind. But crunchy peanut butter with honey for 'A' or pickled beetroot for me is always the go-to lunchbox sandwich when there's nothing else available. 

I made these bars so often when I first discovered the recipe that everyone got a bit fed up with them. I adapted the recipe this time using spelt flour and agave syrup and cooked rhubarb, making a streusel pudding rather then bars. 

The risotto was flavoured with stock made by steeping dried shitake mushrooms in hot water and leaving overnight for the flavour to infuse. Not a traditional risotto ingredient but it worked amazingly. I discarded the dried mushrooms as I find them really tough just using the stock. Then lots of sauteed field mushrooms and courgettes. The shitake stock added the best flavour...delicious...I don't like soupy risotto or one that's had lots of creamy cheese added.  Just a grating of parmesan to add a little cheesy depth...mmm...

At this time of year I love to make warm salads like the orange and green one. A couple of warm ingredients and the rest as they come at room temperature. Sweet potato or pumpkin gives a lovely sweetness and substitutes for meat or fish. Mild baby spinach leaves a perfect base and crunchy steamed broccoli or green beans a bit of bite. Simply dressed with honey mustard dressing made with balsamic vinegar and grainy Dijon mustard, topped with a handful of walnuts. 

...must go now and make a picnic...

...I wonder what's happening in and out of your garden...


  1. Debby, just reading your post made me hungry!
    I am intrigued by the mushroom risotto and will have to try it here.
    We have been eating a lot of fresh cucumbers, carrots and greens here. I have been getting peppers and tomatoes from the green house and now they are starting to ripen on the fields which is always nice.

    1. It sounds like you have a bountiful harvest Tracey. Everything is much over here this year. The tomato plants are still only a few inches tall!

      Enjoy all the wonderful ripe fruit at your sounds perfect...

  2. Glorious photos from your 'wild' garden Deb. I love the sound of the peanut butter bars and struesel. I have some rhubarb grwoing in the garden at the moment so might give it a try. I've been a bit off cooking lately, not sure why. I'm sure I'll get my chops back soon!

    1. Our rhubarb has finally died Caz...I should have split and replanted it before that happened. I will get a new crown because I love it and it's one of the easiest things to grow.

      Maybe your cooking mojo will come back as you get deeper into the autumn and winter...


  3. Oh, and I have a new coat too. A lovely plum coloured swing cape I got yesterday for Mother's Day - lucky me!

    1. oh it sounds perfect...great colour for autumn and winter. What a lovely Mother's Day Gift.