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Carina in print – July Scotsman Column


Homegrown – Fruits of your labour – In print Saturday 7th July 2018


Bryony, our Kitchen Gardener is doing an amazing job.  Not only is the garden looking stunning, ( nature does take some of the glory for this),   but the harvests are incredible. Nothing is looking more abundant than the black currants.  If you don’t see me in July I’ll be knee deep in ribena juice from harvesting all those currants.  They are my favourite to harvest. It’s like collecting a string of pearls that have been ever so beautifully strung and weighted just perfectly.  And you know you’re efforts have made a difference as you can feel their gravitas in your hand when they leave the bush. Straight into the basket, usually held by an unwilling teenager, but when they’ll get their summer wages they won’t be quite as moody.

 

I’m sure you like me, you have noticed how little fruit especially currants and berries, you get for your punnet and for your pocket.  I’m sure the pick your own up at Craigie’s is still the most cost effective if you want to get the jam or jelly pot out. The consequences of Brexit are affecting our shopping basket at least as far as labour force is concerned.  Shortages of pickers up and down the country is resulting in fruit rotting in the fields and higher prices at the checkout.

 

Not many of us have a few acres in our back gardens to grow on the scale we do for our business but the benefits of homegrown really are tangible.  For us we get seasonal produce and we get a story. It’s as much education as marketing with the produce an enormous bonus. But at home it really can save you money if you invest in good plants that have been overwatered or established in Scotland and the harvests can be of benefit for years if looked after properly. With the added enormous bonus of getting you out in the fresh air and enjoying a little gardening.  Finally – I’ve found one benefit of Brexit!

Prosciutto with mozzarella and blackcurrant salsa

You may not think this combination would work but trust us it does.  

Ingredients Per person
2 very thinly sliced slices of Prosciutto di Parma (preferably from a deli not vacuum packed)
½ ball of mozzarella di bufala, cut in half
1 – 2 teaspoon of black currant jam (we make it wetter than the jam recipe below so don’t let it boil as long just long enough that it has turned syrupy)
Baby herbs such as basil, rocket and red amaranth
Good Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Salt and Black pepper

Method

  1. Place the Prosciutto on a plate and arrange the mozzarella beside it. 
  2. Scatter the herbs lightly on top.
  3. Drizzle with the olive oil and season.
  4. Finally drizzle the blackcurrant
  5. Serve immediately  

Pan fried Halibut

Halibut is by far the king of fish.  It’s white flaky flesh and texture I’ve loved since the first time I tasted it.  You’ll need a good fishmonger to find it and maybe an overdraft but it’s a treat for special occasions.

Ingredients – SERVES 2

2 x 200g halibut steaks, bone in plain flour, for dusting
salt
light olive oil, for frying
Sprouting broccoli, washed well and stalks cut in half lengthways
2–3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, sliced
1 fresh red chilli, sliced
Juice of one lemon
seasoning

To serve
2 wedges of unwaxed lemon

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas 4.
  2. Wash and dry the halibut with kitchen paper and set aside. Sieve some flour onto a large plate and season with a little salt.
  3. Put at least 5mm of light olive oil in a deep frying pan over a medium heat.
  4. Dip the halibut in the flour to coat it lightly on all sides. Shake off any loose flour and gently place the fish in the hot oil.
  5. When the oil is hot, the halibut should sizzle but the oil should not spark. Very gently move the halibut in the pan to prevent it from sticking. Fry for about 3 minutes, depending on the thickness. The underside should be golden but not brown. Very carefully turn the fish over and continue cooking. It will be cooked when you can easily remove the flesh from the central bone.
  6. Remove the halibut from the pan, place it on baking tray and keep it warm.
  7. I roast the broccoli in the oven but you can pan fry.  
  8. Place all the remaining ingredients in a roasting dish and mix all the oil and seasoning through the broccoli.  Add two tablespoons of water to help steam the greens.
  9. Roast in a high oven for about 10 mins until as soft or as crispy as you wish.  I sometimes add soy sauce instead of water but not with the delicate broccoli.

Blackcurrant Jam

Victor’s mum was a jam making expert.  We miss her. One of my favourite treats from her was a slice of really good thick cut brown bread, generously buttered,  sliced banana and an even more generous dod of blackcurrant jam. A perfect tea combination.

Ingredients

400g fresh blackcurrants
400g granulated sugar
Juice of one lemon

Method

  1. Gently remove the fruit from the stalks and place in a jam pan, cover with 330ml of water and gently bring to the boil.
  2. Simmer until tender and the liquid has almost gone.
  3. Add the sugar and lemon juice and cook until the jam temperature is met at 220F
  4. Cool slightly then transfer into two x 500g sterilised jam jams