Saturday, 7 March 2009

Alliums coming and going

It was a beautiful spring day this morning so I suggested to my girls that they played in the garden whilst I put the washing out. That went down well and they were keen to let loose with their bikes so I suggested we headed to the allotment. When you have bright sunshine and keen children you don't hesitate. I grabbed the allotment key, my bucket of tools and the trays of shallots and got going.

I managed to plant 70 shallot sets and 70 red onion sets before the first serious squatting of the year took its toll on my legs. Then I harvested about a dozen leeks of various sizes before we went home for lunch. I was starving hungry by then and my legs were a bit wobbly... hmmm hopefully my muscles will get used to gardening again before the end of March.

Having refueled and rested my legs over lunch it was time to deal with the leeks. Mostly I sliced them up, blanched them and froze them. The centre of the leeks show signs of flower stalks forming so they are in the process of bolting and definitely need preserving now.

I kept a couple of leeks to make leek and apricot stuffing balls. These are delicious but it's not often that I just happen to have all the ingredients in to make them without deliberate planning. Today was one of those happy co-incident days. They are yummy cooked with roast chicken or pork and they will live happily in my freezer until I'm ready for them.

I'll need to continue harvesting the leeks and processing them over the next week and at the same time I will need to finish off planting the onion sets. So as one lot of alliums comes out of the ground a new lot goes in. Ain't that wonderful.

Leek & Apricot Stuffing Balls
(makes 20-24)

7 0z (200g) leeks, chopped
41/2 oz (125g) dried apricots, chopped
1 onion or 4-5 shallots, chopped
2 springs fresh sage, chopped
1 clove of garlic, chopped
6 oz (175g) breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper
4 oz (110g) sausagemeat (optional if vegetarian)
2 eggs

Put all the dry ingredients in a bowl and stir then add the sausagemeat and the eggs and mix it up well using your hands. Pull out bits of the stuffing and mould into balls about the size of a ping pong ball. Place the balls on a tray and cover with clingfilm. Freeze, then once solid decant into a freezer bag. Thaw before cooking at 190°C for 25 minutes on a baking tray.

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