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A simple midweek treat. Eggs from the hens. Purple sprouting, chives and bay from the garden. Perfect.

At this time of year we’re probably the furthest point from self-sufficiency. That’s why eating all the broccoli from my only plant seemed so decadent. It took it over nine months to produce, and we ate it all in one sitting. Well worth the wait… but I’m already looking forward to the more substantial garden treats ahead. At the moment, my vegetable patch is mostly bare. It does have canes, and labels, and a few brave seedlings of rocket, a couple of spinach plants and one tough old lettuce, but not a lot else. I keep standing out in the garden and looking at the mud. It’s so organised this year. With each potato Molly and I planted, a neat little mound sits. Last year, Molly destroyed all the mounds, and all the rows meandered. But this year she can identify herbs (although the other day she saw me steal some rosemary, and has subsequently copied me by stuffing her pockets with other peoples’ herbs), weed, rake, water and her favourite, ‘dig dig’.

So, Gardeners World is back on TV, seed packets are strewn everywhere and the beginning of the growing season is upon us. It is with hope and imagination that I look at my beds, without any of the realities of drought, infestation, cat attacks or blight. Let’s grow!

Serves 2

Good knob of butter

Risotto rice (check packaging as I guess amounts)

1 large red onion, diced

2 large garlic cloves, squished and finely chopped

500ml of chicken stock, plus extra topping-up water

Large head of purple sprouting broccoli

Bunch of chives, finely chopped

1 bay leaf

Dash of sherry


Shavings of parmesan

2 eggs, poached

In a wide pan, melt the butter and slowly cook the onion for a few minutes. Then add the garlic and cook for a further minute or so. Then add the risotto rice, and cook for five minutes. Stir in the sherry, then stock (a little at a time), and then add the bay and the broccoli, and season. Cover with lid and simmer, stirring occasionally until the rice is cooked. This takes around twenty minutes – you’ll probably need to top up with water, you want the end risotto to be quite runny.

Just before the end get a pan of water on the boil, whisk the water to create a whirlpool, drop the cracked eggs in and cook for about three to four minutes. Remove with slotted spoon and leave on side (they’ll be too wet with water to place directly on the risotto).

Finally, add most of the chives to the risotto, spoon onto warmed plates, plop an egg on top, season, shower with parmesan and the remaining chives.

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