Spring is in the air, although frost is still around the corner. Many of you, I know, from listening to the news and hearing from other nurseries throughout the UK, need a good supply of rain. We , here in the west country, have had a good amount, our well is full, our stream is still running, so I consider us very lucky.
2012 is our Jubilee year at Rose Cottage, we moved the herb farm here 25 years ago in April, so during the year we will be holding a number of special events to celebrate.
I started this herb farm because of my passion for good food and because I wanted to fill my garden with only truly useful plants. Mint is a classic example, it is just emerging with sweet succulent new growth. This is a family recipe which is easy to make and is very tasty.
Mint and Aubergine bruschetta. (Jekka’s Herb Cook Book)
Photograph by Jason Ingram
The flavours of fresh mint, aubergine and garlic is a great combination which makes these bruschetta so appetising.
For those like me that like to know the meaning of words ‘burschetta’ is derived form the Italian ‘bruscare’ which means ‘to roast over coals’, alternatively you could call this posh toast.
1 Baguette, ( French Stick), 2 firm aubergine, 6 tbs olive oil, I lemon, zest and juice. 2 tbs spearmint, Tashkent, Moroccan or Garden mint, finely chopped. 1 tbs flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked and finely chopped. 1 clove of garlic, peeled and very finely sliced , sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Slice the aubergine on the diagonal, 1cm thick, sprinkle with salt and set aside for about 40 minutes. Then place the aubergine in a colander and wash well under cold running water. Pat the aubergine dry using a clean tea towel or paper towels. Heat a griddle pan until nice and hot. Lay your aubergine slices on it side by side and, when they are nicely charred on both sides, put them into a salad bowl. You will probably need to cook the aubergine in several batches.
While the aubergine are cooking, put olive oil and the vinegar into a mixing bowl, mix thoroughly until amalgamated, add the chopped parsley and mint and then the garlic and one teaspoon of lemon zest, season with salt and pepper to taste. When the aubergine are all cooked, add them to the bowl and mix around, then check the seasoning again. Heat a grill to hot, slice the baguette on the diagonal, 2-3cm thick, grill on both sides. Once the toasted baguettes have cooled, add the mint and aubergine mix to the slices, press in so that the juices seep into the toast and serve.
To celebrate our Silver Jubilee and my passion for good food I am very pleased to say that, in conjunction with Louise Brown and her lovely Berry Blue team, we are offering unique Gala evenings here at the Herb Farm. This will include a 4 course dinner created by Berry Blue, wine, canapés and a welcome glass of bubbly. This evening will be for a limited number of people and occur on the Thursday before the Open Days.
Many of you, I know, have already met and sampled the delights of Berry Blue at our Open Days and tried their delicious freshly prepared dishes created with Louise’s home grown vegetables, local produce, and yes, many of our herbs.
These unique evenings will start with a private wander around the herb farm where I and my team will be able to answer your gardening questions, and show you some herbs that you may not already know. This will be followed by canapés and, while you sip a glass of delicious bubbly, I will expound about the merits of a few chosen herbs before we all sit down to a wonderful meal, the complexities of which will be explained by the Berry Blue chefs.
At the end of this delectable feast you will be sent on your way with a memorable goodie bag.
If you want more information on this unique event please visit our website Jekka’s Herb Farm
For those of you that cannot join us on these splendid evenings. You can still sample the delights of Berry Blue on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday of our Open Days. This year, especially for those of you who have travelled far or for those of you who love to start the day with a cooked Breakfast, Berry Blue are offering an Early Bird Breakfast from 9am – 10am, either cooked or continental. These will need to be ordered in advanced by emailing Claire@berry-blue.co.uk. They will still be creating their lovely lunches and delcious cakes throughout the day. You will find the dates of all our events on our website .