The butchers of Blackberry

IMG_9322Rain, wind and floods, nothing was going to stop the home team of butchers tackling the carcass that was presented to them on Saturday. One of our lambs from last year had made a visit to the grim reaper and armed with a little knowledge, one ‘Ginger Pig’ butchery course, and a ‘you tube link’, the ‘butchers saw’ was swung into action and this is the result. Pretty impressive I think for an amateur father and son team.

Sadly none of the above was eaten this weekend simply because the gale force winds on friday knocked us clean out of electricity and after 24 hours of camping and boiling water on the log burner my appetite for creating a makeshift oven had diminished. The Lambourn valley and our little farm is struggling to stay above water and with the exception of our new resident ducks, everyone is a little saturated. We now have the most stunning chalk stream running through our garden with crystal clear water, it’s just a shame we can’t utilise it and stock it with trout or grow watercress or something, instead all it is doing is flowing at some speed straight down to Lambourn and flooding the poor villages beyond.

Being without electricity is a gentle reminder of how unbelievably spoilt we are in this country and just how for granted I take switching on a light, flicking on the kettle, turning on the oven. Funnily enough the ‘little people’ rather rose to the occasion and were absolutely brilliant at dealing with being plunged into total darkness. The lights went out, conveniently, just before their bedtime on friday night. The wind had been howling all afternoon, rain lashing down and I just had an inkling that our power could go. Luckily we always have a good supply of candles and having lit the house with my little helpers looking somewhat like ‘wee willy winkles’ I then embarked on dinner (a romantic one don’t forget and made more so by the lack of lights)!

I love my aga, and never more so as on friday night. Bare in mind it is not an old oil fired one but electric, yet even though the electricity was off the latent heat was enough to cook dinner for Mr.P, relief all round. A little salad of blood orange, tardivo, raddichio, fresh goats cheese and pistachios followed by some pan fried halibut with braised fennel. Needless to say this standard of cooking did not survive, we managed saturday lunch but purely fortuitously as I had made some squid ink pasta the day before. That was cooked on the log burner and tossed together with fresh crab, chilli, garlic and parsley, so pretty easy, and then we bailed out, landing as refugees with cousins on saturday for dinner and the pub for lunch on sunday. By that evening the power was back on and life back to normal. Rather sadly in my view, I rather like candlelight and having to seek alternatives and the challenges it presents with little people demanding scrambled eggs for breakfast, which we did, of course, nothing a little fire can’t cook!!

Blood orange, raddichio, goats cheese and pistachio salad

This is a really pretty salad to have in February, blood oranges are abundant, with most green grocers and farm shops stocking them, as is raddichio. If you are lucky you may find some tardivo which is the thinner more elegant leaf I have used in the photos above. It’s a bright, happy salad with a gorgeous yet simple combination of flavors. It is also quick and easy with no cooking required, the perfect starter for a power deprived house! It could of course be the perfect salad to go with some of that lamb, another time!

Serves 2

2 blood oranges (segment 1 1/2 of them and juice the other half for the dressing)

1 head of raddichio or a combination of tardivo and radichio

1 handful of pistachio nuts finely chopped

50g of fresh goats cheese

Dressing:3 tablespoons of really good olive oil, 1 tablespoon of white balsamic, 1 tablespoon of blood orange juice, salt and pepper

1. Segment the orange being careful to cut away the white bitter pith, I usually segment into 8’s, remove any pips.

2. Wash the raddichio and spin dry and then start layering up the salad, raddichio, orange, crumbled goats cheese and then pistachios, and then repeat.

3. Whizz all the dressing ingredients together and dress just before serving.

Note – if the the pistachios are a little chewy pop them in the oven to roast off for about 10 minutes before chopping them!


About lardersaga

Joanna Preston is mother of the 'little people', 1 pink and 1 blue, and wife to saintly Mr.Patience! After a decade dedicated to cooking for others (Alps, Africa and founding 'Sugar & Spice') my attention is now solely in the home kitchen. We are a food obsessed family that adore growing, sourcing and cooking delectable feasts for friends and family!
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