What a food fest at Margot and Jerry HQ this week. From watercress to strawberries, Hampshire fizz to charcuterie and a bit of jam and gin thrown into the mix, I’ve seen it all. Skipping off to the launch night of the Hampshire Food Festival at none other than one of Hampshire best loved foodie haunts, The Pig Hotel at Brockenhurst (is it me or do I seem to make a habit of finding a pig everywhere I go lately???), I had a wonderful time chatting to lots of wonderful producers. Hattingley Valley fizz, Upham Brewery beer, Parsonage Farm charcuterie, Devese Farm Animals’ Goat pâté to name but a few as well as a new find for me, the most sumptuous lobster oil from Catch on the Isle of Wight.
We are so lucky in Hampshire to have such a wealth of foodie delights on the doorstep – thanks so much to Hampshire Fare for inviting a very greedy Margot along for the evening! A considerable pity that I was driving as I would have tucked into the Hattingley fizz and Twisted Nose gin wholeheartedly…….all in the name of research I assure you, dear Reader. It is a hard job but someone has to do it! I can’t wait for all the other Hampshire Food Festival events! As for The Pig Hotel, I shall certainly be convincing Jerry to whisk me away for an evening of gastronomic heaven in its picture perfect grounds.
My advice, dear Reader – seek out your local farmers’ market wherever you are. Everything is usually handmade, delicious, something out of the ordinary and best of all, it won’t have travelled too far to get to you!
From The Pig to watercress…..and the lovely people at @Love_Watercress and Pam Lloyd PR who sent me four marvellous bunches of watercress to create some kitchen magic with the vibrant, iron-rich green stuff. Not wanting to go down the usual watercress salad and soup route, I set about trying something different.
The favourite? My Watercress and Pea Mayonnaise – very easy, made in seconds and a perfect partner to some prawns and toasted baguette for lunch.
Watercress and Pea Mayonnaise (makes enough for a small jar – use within a week to ten days)
1 large bunch of watercress
half a mug of peas (fresh or frozen)
4 large tablespoons of homemade mayonnaise (if you are going to use shop bought, then go for a really good quality one that is made with free range eggs and looks a bit more custardy in colour)
a good squeeze of lemon juice
a few strands of lemon zest
salt to taste – no need for black pepper as the watercress is peppery enough
Whizz all the ingredients up in a food processor et voila, your work is done! Spoon liberally onto the baguette before adding fresh watercress. Top with grilled prawns and sprinkle a little smoked paprika on top for some smoky spice. It also goes rather well with smoked salmon, grilled chicken or used to top a piece of seared trout. Something rather delicious, made with almost hardly effort at all!
Pity I can’t squeeze a little watercress bed into the garden! Never more have vegetables been on the agenda at Margot and Jerry HQ as our own veg patch is burgeoning under a make-do-and-mend style polytunnel. Having really got stuck in this year with growing our own, I’m surprised by how a little amount of space can bring forth such a huge amount. We’ve got enough lettuce to feed the county! My battle now commences with rabbits, squirrels, slugs, snails and pigeon. Our very own Mrs MacGgregor next door takes tending her walled kitchen garden very seriously and I have on more than one occasion come home to find errant rabbits and pigeons left on the doorstep, ready for the pot! They’d better take more care not to be caught next time. I, on the other hand, am not sure I am ready to take my veg patch watch to Depth Con 4 levels just yet, dear Reader!
One significant problem according to Poppy and Primrose though…..we forgot to plant strawberries. In fact, other than a thornless blackberry plant, an autumn raspberry cane and some dead on its feet rhubarb, we didn’t manage to get any soft fruits in this year. However, with an amazing selection at a PYO very near us, we spent a blissful afternoon on Midsummer’s Day picking strawberries and talking jam. Sometimes appeasing a 6 year old and a 3 year old is relatively easy! I shall be cooking up a batch of homemade Strawberry and Lavender jam from the Margot’s Kitchen archives too – forgotten how much we all liked it until my little recipe made an appearance in The Telegraph this week. Good grief – a proud Margot kitchen moment indeed! Happy Eating, dear Reader!