Each month I'll share one of my favourite recipes to this page, focusing on the ingredients that are ready to pick that month.
Be sure to share and tag your triumphs @homewoodbath
Darren Stephens, Chef-Gardener
A single tomato plant can produce a lot of fruit this time of year… more than you can eat perhaps. If you don’t have space in the freezer for tomato sauce then this is the recipe you need. It's also the first recipe I ever wrote down, from Baths very own two-star chef Martin Blunos - Great with just about anything!
Tomato & Chilli Relish
What you'll need: 5 mild red chillies roughly chopped, 4 large cloves garlic peeled and roughly chopped, 50g fresh ginger (peeled weight) roughly chopped, 3 star anise, 80ml fish sauce (nam-pla), 250g castor sugar, 150ml red wine vinegar, 2kg tomatoes chopped
Method: Add all ingredients to a large solid-based pan and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook gently stirring from time to time for about 1 ½ hour, or until the mixture has reduced and is thick and pulpy. Take the pan from the heat, fish out the star anise and set them aside – using a stick blender blitz the pulpy mass till smooth.
Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt if needed (you may not need any due to the salty nature of the fish sauce). Put jam into a sealable tub along with the reserved star aniseed. Allow to cool completely then seal and store in the fridge.
The polytunnel is abundant with crops at their peak right now so, I’ve put together a recipe using as many ingredients from there as I could. While this is not a true ratatouille, it's inspired by the flavour combinations of the traditional Mediterranean stew and of course the film.
What you'll need:120g ricotta, 60g grated parmesan, 3 cloves garlic minced, 1/2 aubergine thinly sliced and lightly salted, 2 courgettes, handful of tomatoes
For the pastry: 1 sprig fresh rosemary chopped to a dust, 190g plain flour, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 110g cold diced butter, 60g yoghurt, 2 teaspoon lemon juice, 60g cold water, 1 egg yolk
Method: Combine the flour, salt and rosemary dust. Mix in the butter using your hands until incorporated. Add the yoghurt and lemon. Continue to combine adding the cold water until the mixture forms a ball. Place this wrapped in the fridge for an hour. Mix the cheeses and garlic.
Remove the pastry from the fridge. Roll out into a circle on a lined baking sheet. Fill the centre of the pastry with the cheese mixture allotting space around the edge for the crust. Working from the outside lay the vegetables alternately over each other. Fold over the excess dough onto some of the vegetables. Brush the exposed crust with egg wash.
Place in the oven at 190 C and set a timer for 30mins, checking to make sure vegetables are soft and crust golden. Remove from the baking sheet and bake for another 15 minutes straight on the oven shelf to ensure the base is cooked. Serve right away or cooled. I’ve added fresh chilli and basil, also from our polytunnel.
Courgettes. An endlessly versatile vegetable and in abundance in our no-dig garden and many others right now. So often over cooked in a poor excuse for ratatouille, when fresh and tender they are amazing raw, like many other home-grown veggies.
Courgettes, English mustard dressing, rosemary and garlic sourdough croutons
What you'll need: 4 courgettes thinly sliced length ways on a mandolin (watch your fingers!) or just into rounds, sourdough, clove of garlic, sprig of rosemary, knob of butter
For the dressing: 1 teaspoon English mustard, 2 teaspoons honey, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, 6 teaspoon virgin rapeseed oil, salt and pepper
Method: Whisk all the ingredients for the dressing vigorously to emulsify. Slice the sourdough into neat cubes and sauté in a little rapeseed oil until toasted on the outside. With the pan hot, add the butter along with the whole clove of garlic and chopped rosemary. Let the butter foam until the croutons are golden and drain them off. In a bowl, gently mix the dressing with the courgettes, it should be thick enough to coat them. Assemble into a bowl and top with the crotons and some basil and oregano tips.
Turnip, the most humble of all vegetables, underrated, under used and one of my favourites. We’ve grown three varieties, two with creamy coloured skin and a purple crown (where the turnip grew above the surface of the ground and was exposed to sunlight) and ‘Tokyo’ turnips that are pure white. They have a rounded flavour - sweet and slightly peppery - the tops are delicious too!
Turnip and Gruyere gratin
What you'll need: 6 medium turnips with tops, 1 small onion thinly sliced, 150g double cream, 150g milk, 20g grated parmesan, 20g grated Gruyere, salt and pepper
Method: Preheat the oven to 180°C. Begin by gently frying the onion in a little oil until soft without colour. Peel the turnips and using a mandolin or a sharp knife, slice the turnips into discs roughly 3mm thick. Place the turnips into a small saucepan with the cream, milk and a pinch of salt and pepper. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook for 3-4 minutes. Drain, reserving the liquid, and set aside. Pour the liquid back into the pan and simmer until slightly reduced and thickened. Neatly layer the turnip discs into a 20cm ovenproof dish. Pour over the milk and cream, then cover with the grated cheese Bake in the oven for 25–35 minutes until golden and bubbling and serve with the turnip tops briefly blanched in salted water.
A serious contender for the heavyweight champion of best British seasonal veg is asparagus. It has a tantalisingly brief season but frequently exceptional quality. It deteriorates relatively quickly after picking, which is why freshly picked English asparagus does not compare to the jet-lagged imported spears.
Here’s an alternative to the traditional accompaniment of a poached egg and Hollandaise sauce.
British asparagus, goats curd and yuzu
Yuzu is a citrus fruit grown mainly in east Asia, with a distinctly fragrant taste that sets it apart from lemons and limes. Its juice can be found bottled in most good supermarkets.
It pairs exceptionally well with a smooth fresh goat’s curd and crisp asparagus.
What you'll need: 1 bunch British asparagus, 120g goats curd, mixed baby leaves
For the dressing: 20ml yuzu juice, 20ml rice vinegar, 20ml mirin, 100ml olive oil, 2g salt, pinch of black pepper
Method: Whisk all ingredients for the dressing until emulsified. Snap off the woody ends of the asparagus and drop into boiling heavily salted water for no more than 1 minute and refresh under cold water. In a bowl, dress the spears with the yuzu dressing, leaves, curd and a pinch of flaky salt.
Serve in a large sharing bowl or individually.
As I only have hundreds of seedlings so far, I've looked to the rest of the hotel grounds for inspiration. Coming into bloom right now is a magnificent Magnolia tree that reminds me of a slightly unusual recipe and one of my favourite things to pickle.
Pickled Magnolia Flowers
The Magnolia is a beautiful tree and all varieties have edible flowers that can be eaten raw. They have a mild ginger flavour so they work great with Indian dishes or can be used as a replacement for the pink pickled ginger you get with sushi. Use the raw petals to decorate desserts or dress them in a salad. I love them pickled and sliced on toasted sourdough with soft goat's cheese... because everything is great on sourdough. You can use the young buds whole or pick the petals from the open flowers.
What you'll need: 150g magnolia petals or buds, 250g rice wine vinegar, 80g sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, chilli flakes or peppercorns (optional)
Method: Wash the flowers removing any furry sepals and pat dry, trying not to bruise them. Add them to a sterilised Kilner jar. Bring the vinegar, sugar chilli or peppercorns (if using) and salt to a simmer and stir until sugar is dissolved. Pour the hot liquid directly over the flowers, use a utensil to push them under the liquid as they will float up. Leave to cool at room temperature, then refrigerate.
You can eat the flowers straight away or, if you can resist them for a few months, I find the flavour continues to improve. Chilli flakes or pink peppercorns work well in the pickling liquor and also look very cool!