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The Garden Cafe - Flavoursome Food and Other Things!

Updated: Apr 27, 2020

Flavoursome Food and Other Things!

By Samantha Holmes

Hello to everyone! Welcome to our new Garden Cafe page. It seems like an age since we had to close the Garden Cafe due to the Covid 19 crisis that we have all found ourselves in. Although it's lovely to be able to spend more time at home, I do miss having the craic with my work colleagues and loyal customers. I miss cooking huge pots of good vegetarian grub and sweet treats and hearing the feedback that is received by you all. I am keeping my recipes alive though and experimenting with new ones that, hopefully, we will be able to introduce into the cafe when we can reopen. I believe that this is the perfect time for people, that may not have done much cooking in the past, to learn how easy it is to cook good healthy and nutritious food. Many people, it seems, have lost the urge to cook and create in the kitchen..... to sit at a table and share good food with others. The value of eating together as a family has disappeared in many households, but maybe this will be a time when it is remembered again. Maybe home cooking will become a thing that people enjoy and the benefits of good food valued. If this is one thing that does come out of this strange time, that is a very good thing in my book!

So as part of my weekly blog, I hope that I can encourage some of you to get into the kitchen and cook a simple dish. At this time of year there is quite a bit of foraging to do. For those of us that are lucky enough to have big gardens, or live within 2km of the countryside, nettles should be within your grasp. They should be picked before they flower, the younger the better. Nettles contain vitamin C and iron and are a good nutritious free food. If you cut them back once they get too big they will then produce another batch perfect for eating later in the year. I find the best way to harvest them is to take a pair of scissors and a bowl out to the nettle patch and cut the young tops directly into the bowl. They taste somewhere between spinach and a mild cabbage and can be used in many ways; to make drinks such as nettle tea or nettle beer. They can be served straight as a vegetable, made into pesto or a puree for dolloping onto pizza or in ravioli. One of the simplest and best ways to use them though is in nettle soup. Nettle soup then, is this weeks recipe. I realise that not everyone will have access to a decent nettle patch. However, I have chosen this for my weekly recipe because, I believe, it is important to realise the value that a humble ‘weed' can have in our kitchens and on our health.

I hope that many of you will try out and enjoy this nettle soup recipe. I also hope to bring you more recipes over the next while. For now though, enjoy being at home where you can make the most of your kitchen. Take care and stay healthy with good food! Sam 😉

Nettle Soup

Serves 4

Half a carrier bag of Nettle tops 1 large potato

50g butter 1 large carrot

1 large onion salt, pepper

1 litre veg stock 2 Tbsp creme fraiche

Wash and drain the nettle tops and peel and dice the potato and carrot. Melt the butter in a large saucepan, add the finely chopped onion and cook gently for about 5 minutes until softened. Add the stock, nettles, potato and carrot. Bring to a simmer and cook gently until the potato is soft, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Using a blender, puree the soup and then season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve in warmed bowls with a dollop of creme fraiche. A drizzle of olive oil and Tabasco is a nice addition if you fancy. Enjoy!

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