Rhubarb is abundant from late March. A few of you are encouraging early crops by a technique called 'forcing' (covering the plant with a very large pot). Easy to grow as it just sprouts up yearly without you doing anything special.
For a Rhubarb Smoothy, keep the fibre by omitting Step 5 and dilute the gluppy mixture with milk instead. After Step 6, put in a blender and blitz your smoothie with some optional ice.
For Rhubarb Jelly, just add gelatin or agar to set.
Much vine pruning of late is leaving us with much new vine leaves going to waste. Here are a couple of yummy Greek tasties adapted by Julie Winnard to try out.
1. Courgette & feta/ cheese parcels and variations (30-60 minutes)
There are a number of versions of these, the most common being spinach based (spinopitakia) but you can substitute any green veg that can be shredded of grated and cooks quickly.
Oil or butter or healthy oil spray
1 packet of filo pastry
Pine nuts (lightly toasted first are best)
1 small courgette
1 egg (optional)
Salt and pepper
Dill or mint (dried or fresh)
If you have leftover pastry, there are many veg and/or cheese fillings you can quickly assemble to use them up- shredded leek and cheddar, mushroom and spring onion (with stilton is v good), chopped cherry tomato and basil (optionally add mozzarella), shredded spinach or chard leaf* and goats cheese (or any cheese) with a little nutmeg.
Cheesy versions do not usually need egg whereas non-cheese ones may do, to bind the filling together a little.
If you want to add any meat, cook it first- minced lamb with cooked aubergine and tomato and a little Moroccan spice is good; or minced lamb garam masala and peas makes samosas, stir fry veg and shredded duck with soy sauce and garlic makes pancake rolls. Cooked chicken turkey or light game birds with onion and a little cinnamon and nutmeg, then dust the pastries with cinnamon and icing sugar before cooking makes fantastic Moroccan pastries called “bistilla”.
*chard may require a few minutes of wilting first in a pan
You can also make sweet dessert pastries in much the same way (without egg!)- just add a little sugar or honey to the chopped fruit. Unusual versions include apricots and a little basil, strawberries and rhubarb, pear or apple and blackberry, or even pears and a little chocolate!
2. Dolmades- rice stuffed vine leaves (60 minutes roughly)
This is the only recipe I’ve had which works well, and is best done with large but new (light green) leaves pruned from your vines. You can get vine leaves in brine in packs but I find they are rather salty and tough, and often fall to pieces. This version was designed to work with cabbage only but works well with the vine leaves. You can also vary the fillings similarly to the filo pastries, by changing the ingredients around. In the version below the egg is vital for holding the raw and cooked filling together!
12-16 fresh or frozen vine leaves (for 2-4 people)
50g uncooked DRY long grain or basmati rice
Small chopped onion or a couple of spring onions, chopped
Handful of pine nuts
Small handful of currants
Dried dill and mint (or fresh)
Salt and pepper
2 tins plum tomatoes and/or passata
Kettle full of just-boiled hot water
White or pale green cabbage or lots more vine leaves
Large saucepan with lid and a heatproof saucer which fits inside it
Some recipes mix a little cooked minced lamb into the rice instead (or you could add cooked crumbled spicy sausage crumbs) but I find this makes it a bit bulky- I use the currants and pine nuts instead of the meat normally. Also most recipes say to put a tablespoon of filling in each leaf but this is too much for English leaves I find- hence use a teaspoon to start with.
The vine leaves one works better earlier in the year but if you are still pruning new shoots off there may be enough healthy leaves to do this- it is easy, delicious and cheap! And you can freeze the leaves for a few months to use whenever you feel like it- I think mine were in the freezer for almost a year and still fine!
I've never successfully made them with cabbage but you may be able to :-)
Claire collected some major silverware at the local Hutton Horticultural Society (HHS) show. As a first timer this was a huge achievement.