Garden writer Lia Leendertz has put together a selection of wholesome party delicacies made with fresh produce from the garden along with foraged fruit and nuts. You'll find the full selection of her dishes in the December issue (180). Here's just a taster of some of the exciting things she came up with .
Shelling hazelnuts is not a fast job, so you will need to set a little time aside in advance to grapple with your hoard. Use star-shaped cutters and hang these biscuits from the tree, or package them up as nutty gifts.
150g golden caster sugar
150g plain flour
75g shelled hazelnuts
1 egg yolk
1: In a large bowl, cream the butter and the sugar together until pale and fluffy.
2: Blitz the hazelnuts to a fine powder in a food processor and add to the bowl, together with the rest of the ingredients.
3: Use a little water to bring the mixture together. Knead lightly, form into a ball, wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.
4: Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC (gas mark 4).
5: Roll out half the mixture at a time, keeping the other half refrigerated.
6: n a lightly floured surface, roll out to 5mm thick, cut out shapes and transfer them to a baking sheet lined with baking parchment. Bake for about 15 minutes, until light brown.
7: Cool on a wire rack.
Beetroot crips with dips
These delicious crisps look particularly good if you grow different coloured beetroots such as yellow ‘Burpees Golden’ and red-ringed ‘Chioggia’. Home-grown carrots and borlotti beans can be made into great dips.
1: Take one or two each of several differently coloured beetroots. Peel and slice with a mandolin and drop, up to ten at a time, into hot oil.
2: Wait until the slices stop bubbling entirely – this is the moisture being driven out of them – and then cook for a minute more. Lift out and drain on kitchen paper.
3: Deep-fry a sprig of rosemary, then crumble the leaves on to the crisps, along with some coarse sea salt.
Carrot and sumac dip
1: Toss 500g of carrots and five unpeeled cloves of garlic in a mixture of one dessert spoon of olive oil, one dessert spoon of runny honey, a teaspoon of cumin seeds and two teaspoons of ground sumac. Roast in a medium oven (180ºC, gas mark 4) until soft, with edges starting to caramelise.
2: Blend in a liquidiser or with a hand-held blender, adding two tablespoons of tahini, a good sprinkling of salt, the juice of half a lemon and a little more olive oil.
3: Serve warm or at room temperature, with a little ground sumac sprinkled on top.
Borlotti bean and goats cheese dip
1: Soak 300g dried borlotti beans in water for at least 12 hours.
2: Drain water off and boil in fresh water along with a bay leaf and four cloves of garlic for up to an hour, until tender, removing any scum.
3: Drain when cooked and squeeze the garlic cloves out of their skins.
4: Blend with one log of soft goats cheese and a handful of parsley.
5: Sprinkle with chopped parsley to serve.
Mulled sloe champagne cocktails
A slug of this syrup at the bottom of a glass of champagne makes a great winter cocktail: fruity, spicy and sparkling with a mulberry glow, and redolent of bountiful hedgerows.
2kg sloes, washed
1 egg white
80g sugar per 100ml liquid
Spices: 2 cinnamon sticks, 10 allspice berries, 4 cloves, slices
of orange and lemon zest, tied
in a small piece of muslin
Champagne to serve
1: Place the sloes, water and the bag of spices into a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Simmer for about 15 minutes.
2: Remove the spice bag and put it into a clean saucepan.
3: Place a large piece of clean muslin in the saucepan, then pour in the cooked sloes. Tie the muslin at the corners and hang it up to drip into the pan overnight.
4: In the morning, squeeze the cloth gently and then set aside. Remove the spice bag from the liquid.
5: Beat the egg white, then whisk into the liquid. Bring all to the boil, stirring frequently and skimming off the froth on the surface.
6: Cool, measure volume, then add 80g sugar per 100ml liquid. Boil until it starts to thicken and sugar is completely dissolved, cool slightly.
7: Pour into warm, sterile bottles and seal.
8: To make up the cocktails, pour a dash of syrup into a glass and add Champagne.
• First published in issue 180
• Recipes Lia Leendertz; Photographs Jason Ingram; Styling Clare Gardner-Medwin