Low carb

Wild garlic butter

We sat down to supper, the children just having gone to bed. They were supposed to be asleep, yet by the volume of giggling wafting downstairs were still wide awake. Perhaps we could finish our meal in peace before resorting to investigation followed by threats.

I'd spent about half an hour in the afternoon making wild garlic butter from scratch. About 600ml of double cream into the churning jar was enough for a large pat and the buttermilk left over will go very well in some scones or to marinate some chicken.

A few handfuls of the garlic leaves and flowers, dug from the garden and cleaned of soil were wilted in a pan and squeezed dry. Salt and a pinch of turmeric went in to the blender with the butter until it became a vivid green, then I poured it, still fairly liquid, into a dish in the fridge to firm.

Making your own butter means you can choose cream that you know comes from well looked after cows. Grass-fed and allowed to live as they should: on pasture and well treated, contributing to and being part of the wider healthy biosphere. There is also a freshness to homemade, as well as a the excitement of seeing the simple magic of separating whey from fat. And once you've rinsed and squeezed it through muslin you can flavour it as you like.

When the children help, we wrap and label theirs with their names so they have personalised butter pats. They usually stick to plain butter, but you could spice it with garam masala or a tablespoon of harissa, rosemary or tarragon. You could even go sweet with ground cinnamon and sugar.

When you make a batch, roll each into a cylinder and wrap well in paper. You can freeze for later use or keep in the fridge for about a week if salted.

I used the wild garlic butter last night with chorizo scrambled eggs. The spices from the meat mingling with the deep green butter as the cubes sizzled and crisped. On the side were garlic-laden sautéed courgettes and a green salad lightly dressed with a punchy mustard vinaigrette. As if it wasn't rich enough, I had some very creamy goats cheese on my eggs. Maybe I'm calcium deficient at the moment and my body is trying to tell me something. If that meal was the result of subliminal dairy messaging, then I'm all ears.


It's normally always there, lingering in the back of the cupboard, the lid slightly encrusted with a beige residue and the oil separated from the paste, sitting on top in a questionable pool. Then there is a fight to get the near solidified clay out of the bottom and not bend the spoon. And that's all before you discover you haven't got a tin of chickpeas anyway so have to go to the shop. Again.But fear not! This homemade tahini will save the day. And if there's ever a houmous crisis in the shops again, you can whip up your own in a jiffy. And then you can put it in a jar in the fridge and the whole family dip a carrot stick in it for lunch on Saturday then forget about it until you throw it away a week later as you wonder why you bother.Of course, this all depends on you having a bag of sesame seeds in the cupboard. I'd suggest that it is a staple worth having, and really, it's nicer making your own tahini anyway. It just (as with most things that are freshly made) tastes so much better. And you know it only has what you put in it in it.MethodTo make a jam jar sized amount of fresh tahini, sprinkle sesame seeds all over an oven tray, you can be very generous. Heat the oven to 180c and roast the seeds until they start to colour a little and toast. Stir them round occasionally so they don't burn.Leave to cool a little then put in the food processor and blitz until you have a crumbly mix. Slowly add in some neutral oil, such as groundnut or rapeseed and keep blending until you have a creamy paste. Transfer to a jar and keep in the fridge.Apart from houmous -- which I would recommend making using dried chickpeas for a better finished dish, but, if you only have tinned I'm not going to judge you --  tahini can be used in dressings, sauces with some yoghurt, drizzled over roast carrots or even put into ice cream. And what's more, there's a little more cupboard space and the satisfaction of the homemade.

Pork Chops with Mustard and Cream

pork-chopsWe don't often eat pork chops in my house. We've had the fear put into us by my mother-in-law that we will have a terrible night's sleep if we eat pork in the evening. Also, I've possibly been put off it by years of having to endure eating grey, leathery shoe-sole tasteless meat disguising itself as food. You'd think it was still wartime the way some people still cook it.Make sure you but good quality pork, from well looked after pigs. That's a good place to start. And don't be scared of it being a little pink in the middle. That way, it will be juicy, tender and flavoursome and will, with hope, overcome bad memories of the school lunch hall, chewing interminably and trying to move 'food' around the plate to make it look as though you've polished most of it off and are bloody well grateful, boy. I didn't fight in the trenches surviving on tinned pilchards for you to etc etc.Today's recipe is simple and very quick to make. Pork, creamy mushrooms and mustard is a classic combination and while it may seem to be a little old-fashioned, there's nothing wrong with that; delicious is delicious. The sesame broccoli brings it out of the aspidistra lined 1970's suburbs a little, just don't boil the veg. for four hours.Ingredients for four people4 good thick pork chopsA few handfuls of button of chestnut mushrooms, sliced1/2 a red onion, finely sliced2 sprigs of rosemaryA few large sage leaves300ml double cream1-2tbsp wholegrain mustard (I like Moutarde de Meaux, very tasty and has no sugar or other nonsense)Olive oil for fryingSalt and pepper to seasonEnough broccoli for four people, stems too1tbsp sesame oil1tbsp sesame seeds, toasted if you likeMethodWhile heating a cast iron skillet for the meat, gently soften the onion in a sauté pan in the olive oil until translucent then add the herbs and mushrooms.Season well and cook until the mushrooms are colouring. Add the cream and stir in the mustard. Cook for a few minutes until the cream thickens. Loosen with a little water if it gets too thick. Taste and adjust the seasoning and mustard.Cook the pork chops on a high heat for a few minutes on each side until golden and the fat is rendering and crisping. Hold it down on its fatty edge to achieve this. Leave it to rest and boil the broccoli for about four minutes. I slice the stems and throw them in a minute before the florets. Drain very well, water really gets stuck in all those buds and drizzle over the sesame seeds and oil.Serve the pork with the sauce and broccoli.