Bangers and Balls

Our banging blog with ballsy ideas!

Strutting their stuff on the catwalk this week are Cheeky Cherries. With a short season from June to July, these wonderful little fruits shout from the tree tops that summer is well and truly here. Why not amaze yourself by trying my fabulous Cherry BBQ Sauce.

Wild cherries are found in hedgerows all across the UK, and as all varieties are edible (although some are quite sour, oh and the seeds are poisonous, so try not to eat those), they are a great fruit to forage, even for the most novice wild foody.

Of course you needn’t be as adventurous as that in order to sample their delights, as almost every shop I go into is bursting with them at the moment. Be warned though, roadside vendors aren’t always as scrupulous as you might imagine and could be selling ‘local’ cherries fresh off the boat from spain. If in doubt, don’t be afraid to ask for details about the farm they were grown in. Any lies will soon unravel.

Duncan's Five Favourite things about Cherries

  • May make you look younger. Cherries are rich in antioxidants and Polyphenols, a compound that helps to fight cell damage.

  • May improve you’re sex life. Tart cherries can enhance performance and aid recovery. Ok, so the study was carried out on 27 long distance runners, but it’s up to you what marathon sessions you prefere.

  • High in vitamins and minerals. Cherries are a good source of vitamins C, K and B as well as Manganese, Copper and Magnesium.

  • They have a long and industrious history. It is thought that they originated in the region between the black and caspian seas, but they have been cultivated for longer than history records. They were introduced to the UK by order of Henry 8th in the 16th century and were first grown here in Teynham, near Sittingbourne, Kent.

  • Cherries are delicious and versatile. They can be used in all sorts of recipes, both sweet and savoury, from jams and compotes to stews and marinades and don’t forget cherry brandy! Why not amaze yourself by trying my fabulous cherry BBQ sauce recipe below.

Fresh Cherries from Mallards Farm

I was inspired by my love of all things seasonal and this quick and easy sauce can be used both as a marinade for meats such as pork or chicken, or as an alternative to ketchup.

As it contains a fair amount of vinegar and sugar it should keep in the fridge for a good three weeks, and freezes really well, so you can enjoy that beautiful cherry flavour well past the season.

Cheeky Cherry BBQ Sauce

What you need to make it

1 medium red onion, diced

A large knob of butter (with a little cooking oil to stop it from burning)

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

1 large punnet of fresh, local cherries, pitted and chopped

A good squirt of ketchup

3 tablespoons of dark brown sugar

1 cup of cider vinegar

1 teaspoon worcestershire sauce

2 teaspoons of mustard.

How to make it

On a low heat melt the butter with the oil in a medium sized saucepan.

Chuck in the diced onion, mix around a bit and put the lid on, keeping the heat low for 10 minutes, or until the onion is soft and translucent. (this is when I would usually pit and chop the cherries)

Mix the crushed garlic in with the onion. Replace the lid and keep the heat low for a minute or two.

Chuck in the cherries and the rest of the ingredients. Mix it up, then put the lid back on and crank the temperature right up.

As soon as the mixture comes to the boil reduce the temperature right back to low and take the lid off. Give it a stir and allow to simmer, stirring regularly, until the sauce is thick and the cherries are soft.

Allow to cool. If you want a smooth sauce blitz it in the whizzer. If you have a smoking gun use it to infuse applewood smoke (or cherry wood if you have it) into the sauce as it cools. If not you can buy liquid smoke, but this is optional.

Marinade meat at least two hours before cooking, fish or veg half an hour. Make sure you save some to use as a dipping sauce. Don’t eat any sauce that has been in contact with raw meat.

Serving Tips

  • Use it to dip home made chips in

  • Marinade your meats from chicken, to beef to duck in

Now put your feet up and enjoy it. We are going to be using this on our organic chicken BBQ chicken thighs this weekend!

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Straight from the farm to to the catwalk is the Captivating Carrot Top. This may come as a surprise but the green tops on your carrots are edible! They have a sweet earthy flavour, that is reminiscent of well - carrots. So don't throw them on the compost but let us tingle your taste buds with Duncan Tinklers mouth watering Carrot Top Pistachio Pesto.

What do you with the greens of your carrots?. We are delighted to see beautiful vibrant green carrot tops thanks to our fabulous weekly organic veg box from Jack's Veg.

Ok, so they look great - but how do they taste?

Carrot top greens look like parsley in appearance, texture and versatility, except carrot top greens actually taste like carrots!

Duncan's Five Favourite things about Carrot Tops

  • They are a great to add into stock - they give it a golden hue

  • They are highly nutritive, rich in protein, minerals and vitamins. They contain 6 times the vitamin C of the root and are a great source of potassium and calcium.

  • The Victorians used carrot tops to dye things yellow

  • They are delicious, cheap and available all year round

  • Zero waste - you get to eat the whole carrot

Carrot Top Pistachio Pesto

Duncan was inspired by his love of root to stalk cooking. Supermarket bagged carrots don't offer you the option of this beautiful green top which is why we love our weekly organic delivery!

If you want to pimp it up even further why not crumble some vegan cheese or goats cheese over the top for a real winter treat.

Carrot Top Pistachio Pesto

What you need to make it

- 1 cup of washed carrot top leaves

- 1/4 cup of shelled pistachios

- 1 large garlic clove, peeled

- 1 lemon zest

- 2 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice

- 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil

- salt and pepper to taste

How to make it

1. Whiz up your pistachios and garlic in your food processor

2. Add carrot tops, lemon juice, lemon zest and blitz

3. Add olive oil to make a pesto consistency

4. Season to taste

Serving Tips

  • Toss it through pasta

  • Drizzle over Jack's organic potatoes

  • Serve it with delicious bread - homemade, warmed in the oven or shop bought - you decide.

  • Pimp it up with some goats cheese or a vegan alternative

Now put your feet up and enjoy it. Tonight we sat at the kitchen table and ate it drizzled over Jack's organic potatoes with our Christmas laterns we have made!

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Strutting its stuff on the catwalk this week is Wild Garlic one of the best scents of Spring. It is abundant, tasty and their will be a patch to sniff out near you this April.

If you are new to foraging wild garlic is a great place to start, as it’s very easy to identify, very prolific and delicious. What better way to add purpose to a walk and get the kids involved over the Easter Holidays.

Use Duncan's video guide below to find it and try his simple Wild Garlic Vinegar recipe to make you feel like a Domestic God.

wild garlic

Where to Find Wild Garlic

The plant, native to Britain, is also known as Bear leek, Bear’s garlic, Broad-leaved garlic, Buckrams, Ramsons, Wood garlic and can grow to heights of between 45 and 50 cm. We only pick a few leaves from each plant and never the bulb. It's sword-shaped, silky, moist leaves resemble those of Lily of the Valley so make sure you rub the leave between your fingers to check it realises that pungent garlic smell.

Watch Duncan's quick video to give you top tips on where to find it.

They Are Free and Easy To Find - but How Do They Taste?

It is a member of the Allium family which is the Latin world for garlic. The early leaves appear in March and have a combination of sweetness and astringency that makes leeks, onions, chives and shallots so useful in the kitchen. Wild Garlic hits its peak in April and you will find tight white buds decorating the garlic. From May to June the pretty wild flowers start to open in abundance it is a sign that the Garlic leaves have started to turn bitter. Use the potent garlic flowers to add a punch to salads and soups. They are so versatile you can quickly blanche them or wilt them in Garlic Oil they make a garlicky alternative to spinach. However like spinach they perform the same disappearing trick of making a full bag or basket of it disappear into what looks like a very tight serving for two!

Duncan's Five Favourite things about Wild Garlic

  • In the 18th century, French citizens reported protection from the plague if they drank garlic vinegar, and garlic was administered as an antiseptic poultice during the first World War. By the end of the 19th century, garlic was the most widely used medical plant in the world. Its anti-bacterial properties were proven scientifically by Louis Pasteur in 1858.

  • It is free and once you know what to look like you will find it flourishing everywhere. It always makes us feel like naughty children when we find it and pick nature's bounty.

  • If you are new to foraging, wild garlic is a great place to start, as it’s easy to identify, prolific and delicious.

  • It's proven effectiveness * in reducing blood pressure, heart disease and the risk of stroke. Although all garlic has this property, wild garlic has the greatest effect on lowering blood pressure.

  • It is pairs perfectly with seasonal produce from asparagus to jersey royals and compliments fresh eggs and chicken really well.

Duncans' Wild Garlic Oil

Duncan has been focused on how to preserve seasonal produce so we can use it all year round. It feels great to be able to take something we have foraged on a walk and turn it into a kitchen staple. He even shows you how to preserve it for the year in his quick video below.

What you need to make it

-Wild Garlic

- Vegetable Oil

Serving Tips

  • Drizzle it over pasta🍝

  • Add it to a freshly tossed salad🥗

  • Dip fresh bread 🥖 in it

  • Get the kids involved making them this half term. It is a great way for them to get inventive in the kitchen

  • Pimp it up further with some cheese melted on top.

Now put your feet up and enjoy it and feel like the kitchen whizz that you are! What not share a picture in our our Food Collective?

Not a member? Join our free Facebook Group the Food Collective today and meet like-minded foodies and seasonal produce seekers in our collaborative fun space. It is the perfect space to share, ask for help, pick the brains of others and contribute your amazing ideas and recipes.

*A 2013 study out of Saudi Arabia’s King Khalid University published in the Pakistan Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, revealed that garlic was at least as effective as the powerful blood pressure lowering medication atenolol for decreasing both systolic and diastolic blood pressure in participants who’d been diagnosed with essential hypertension.

© 2012 by Bangers and Balls