Hops were first cultivated by the Romans not for the fragrant bitter female cones which we now use to flavour beer, but for the delicate tendrils that thread through hedges each spring. These have a wonderful aromatic flavour which is a wonderful early season alternative to asparagus. Ever since the days of Ancient Egypt they have been valued for their medicinal qualities and used to treat liver complaints and indigestion. Recent research suggests they can also reduce the effects of the menopause.
Ask most people about lampreys and the chances are you will be greeted with a blank stare. And even those that do know something about these strange fish are unlikely to know more than that they are supposed to lie behind one of Britain’s more bizarre royal fatalities. Let’s start with the facts. Lampreys are […]
Two new delicious species are out now . . . Newsletter16May
This is one of our most extraordinary mushrooms. Most people take one look at its sulphurous appearance (which is reflected in its scientific name, Laetiporus sulphureus) and assume it is toxic, but in fact it is an ideal species for the nervous beginner. This is because it is not only impossible to mistake, but it […]
This is a great way to use up excess milk and harness the delicate flavour of ramsoms at the same time . . . 1 litre Whole milk (you can use semi-skimmed) 100 ml White wine vinegar Handful of wild garlic leaves, finely chopped Salt (to taste) Bring the milk almost to boiling point. As […]
With its clown-like mixture of black, slate blue, brown and red plumage, the male redstart is one of our most striking summer visitors. For the next month or so his garish plumage will make him stand out from the foliage, but it is in flight that both he and his otherwise drabber partner are most recognisable thanks to their flashing brick-red tails . . .
Surely one of the greatest summer joys is to wake naturally as the skies begin to lighten? Lying silently, one listens as nature’s volume control slowly cranks up almost imperceptibly, as bird after bird launches into song, each the distinctive trill of a territorial male proclaiming ownership of a particular bush, shrub or tree. But while we may thrill to the sound, few of us can distinguish the individual species, not least because most are almost identical: small, thin-beaked and drab. These are the warblers, a large, but visually undistinguished group, but still genuine ‘diamonds in the rough’
Cook the vol-au-vent cases according to the instructions (you can make your own of course, but I find it too much of a fiddle when the whole point is to have a tasty nibble with the minimum of fuss). Lightly sauté the garlic, onion, mushrooms and chicken (if used) in a little of the butter. Meanwhile, make a roux by melting the rest of the butter, stirring in the flour and mustard. When this has formed a thick paste, slowly stir in the milk, then the cream over a very low heat. Add the Parmesan and the mushroom mixture and season to taste. Leave to cool and then put a dollop in each vol-au-vent case. Garnish with a little chopped parsley, tarragon, chives, ramsoms or whatever takes your fancy and serve warm.
Puffins are easily our most popular seabird: colourful, comic and confiding. Yet despite their popularity, remarkably little is known about much of their lives. For most of the year they vanish, living hundreds of miles from land, probably mostly in small groups scattered across the North Atlantic from Iceland to the Bay of Biscay . […]
The red kite is not only one of our most magnificent raptors, but it represents the ultimate in wildlife success stories. Reduced to barely a dozen individuals a century ago, it now numbers over 2,000 pairs and is regularly seen soaring over London . . . .