Yesterday was Mothers’ Day in the UK – or Mothering Sunday, if you prefer not to pander to the Hallmark hijacking of celebrations. Although Andrew and Rachel were away on the train to Newcastle for the football – with my blessing I should add – I managed to have a special day with Andrew’s mum Ann, and great-aunt Trudy. We had thought we would splash out on a slap-up restaurant lunch, or indulge in a fancy afternoon tea at one of the hotels, but I just couldn’t bring myself to book a table. Although I like being waited on hand and foot as much as anyone else, what I wanted – and what I knew Ann wanted too – was to chill out with some nice food, a bottle of something bubbly and just relax. For us going out to a restaurant is a treat and not a weekly occurrence, but sometimes you just want to take your time, not worry about getting crumbs on your face and, for us, watch the hens take sun baths in the hard-baked ground. Simple pleasures.
So, I made us an afternoon tea. A proper girly afternoon tea with Prosecco (courtesy of Andrew) and a giant pot of Earl Grey tea. We munched on savoury beetroot and cheese scones; plain scones with clotted cream and blackcurrant jam (just the stuff from Lidl – best non-homemade jam); fruit tartlets filled with creme patisserie and topped with fresh fruit and orange blossom honey; various miniature filled rolls; and – my favourite – Peter’s Yard crispbreads topped with lemony creme fraiche, flaked Salar flaky smoked salmon, rocket leaves, toasted pumpkin seeds and a grinding of my cardamom-coriander pepper blend. I wish I had taken proper pictures as it did look quite a pretty spread. Even considering my lack of food styling ability. But what I was most pleased about was the cake. I will post it next time. But, to give you a hint, it has green tea, passionfruit and lime as flavourings. And it is gluten and dairy free, too. I hope you are suitably intrigued and not just bemused.
The hens were certainly amusing but I did lay on more refined entertainment. To complete the girly day we stretched out our full tums in front of a screening of the gorgeously-shot food-porn movie, Chocolat. It did seem a bit ironic/perverse watching this sumptuous film in the absence of chocolate, but I doubt my humble efforts would’ve stacked up against the carnally calorific offerings of Ms Binoche. And I can’t quite rock a shoulder-baring taffeta dress. However, the sigh-inducing sight of a young Johnny Depp made up for our lack of chocolate.
It is a rare occasion when I lay on a feast like the Mothering Sunday tea – honest. It is just too tempting to stuff yourself silly with a cornucopia of tiny sandwiches and itty bitty cakes, in the erroneous view that it’s not a proper meal so it doesn’t really count (guilty as charged, m’lud).
And so I breeze from afternoon tea with lashings of sugar and fat (horror!) to Monday supper with lashings of greens. No, this isn’t a penitence meal – it’s far, far too tasty to be a punishment – but it serves as a marker for the week to come. Greens, greens and more greens.
Right now we seem to be have an abundance of choice in the greens department. Most of the winter stuff is still available, and the new seasons’ greens are coming thick and fast. I was at Marks & Spencer picking up a few bits for Sunday’s gathering when I spied something unknown to me in the produce aisle: little frilly purple and green ‘flower sprouts’. These dinky attractive greens are a cross between kale and Brussels sprouts; very mild and deeply nutritious. I only just found out the name of this 2010 breed of green this very moment, having chucked away the all-important wrapping. So thank you to Tracey at the Craigleith M&S for understanding my confused phone ramblings so politely and furnishing me with the name. I don’t know how long these cuties will be in the store but get them if you can. Have you bought them before? What did you do with them?
I normally make today’s recipe with either the generic sounding spring greens, or darkest kale so use what is most local and available to you. As for the butternut squash, I am afraid it is a food air-mile criminal this time of year, as is sweet potato. But ‘orange stuff’ isn’t happening for us just yet so I think I can justify either on account of their beta-carotene, and the fact that imports are still tasty. You could make it with parsnips but the nutrition and taste will differ to the beta carotene-replete squash and sweet potato.
What are your favourite greens, and how do you normally prepare them? If you are needing more inspiration I have a number of ‘green’ recipes here on foodtoglow. Here’s a sample: Trio of Kale Recipes, this Sweet Potato and Kale tart, a Pancetta and Bitter Greens Tart, some Kitchen-sink Minestrone with Spring Green Pesto Focaccia. And the purple-sprouting broccoli pasta dish – over to the right on the sidebar. And lastly, I have put this into the greenslove bloghop, linking it to the delightful Mis Pensamientos blog. Please check out Junia and all the other greenslove bloghoppers. Also appearing in Fabulicious Foods’ Family Friendly Fridays Recipe Round-up. Check out the link for more family cooking inspiration.