Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Roses galore

Is it just me or have everyone's roses been spectacular this year?    They must love an early dry spring.  I picked these from a rose bush in garden of a cottage on the farm that has no tenants, so it has received absolutely no attention for probably three years.   Quite amazing.  
The iris have been looking incredible too:
I had another group to visit the garden last week. It was a fundraiser for the Friends of the Warrnambool Botanical Gardens, the landscape designer of which, Charles Scoborio, also designed our garden.   I had to cook lunch for fifty.  Fifty!  Of course I left if all to the last minute but it went well and they could not have been nicer.  I made slow cooked lamb with the salad of the summer and a lovely green salad with lettuce from the garden, rocket, pear, parmesan and toasted hazelnuts.  I did mini lemon curd tarts for pud, but didn't have time to photograph them.
Home made lemon cordial
It ended up being quite hot so most people sat inside in the cool, but I set a little table up under the oak tree for the overflow:
I had a little stall as a fundraiser for the Gardens too
It is something of a challenge to have the garden looking ship-shape as well as the house in good order and full of flowers...just as well I can raid the farm cottage gardens.  I have to confess that I did get some extra help with mowing, weeding and whipper snipping while I was busy in the kitchen.
I felt that a little restorative G & T at the end of the day was well and truly justified...

How about those sweet peas?  They are even sneaking up amongst the broad beans...
I put in a late crop of leeks this year..
because I love them and because you need to know how good they are with roast chicken.  Honestly, if you haven't roasted a chicken on top of some leeks, you haven't lived.  Now obviously you don't need a lesson in roasting chicken, but here is my two cents worth anyway...

I always slide some butter and a few herbs (sage and thyme work well) under the skin of the breast and season both sides with lots of salt and pepper. Squeeze over some lemon juice if you like and put the skin in the cavity.  I put the leeks in the pan
and put the chicken breast side down onto the leeks.  Cook for about 30 minutes in a hot oven (200c).  I do this in the roasting oven of the Aga, which is about 210c.
Flip it over and give it a good baste.  Return the to the oven and cook until the juices run clear when pierced with a skewer, about 30-45 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken.  Baste again, and rest for 10 minutes before carving.   The pan juices are usually enough for gravy, and put the soft, meltingly tender leeks on top...