Oh, I do so love this time of year when the garden is filled to bursting with fresh young vegetables in their prime, just waiting for us to pick them and eat them.
Already we have been picking our peas, (which are almost done now. Next year we will do two plantings), our second batch of early new potatoes, early green beans, carrots, beetroot, etc.
Back home in Nova Scotia there is a traditional dish that is very popular this time of year and it very well may have it's origins in old English Cookery, but I haven't been able to find it just yet. We always called it Hodge Podge (Hotch Potch) and it is nothing more than a dinner of small new tender vegetables, briefly cooked and then tossed together in a tasty sauce of salt pork (bacon lardons), cream and some of the cooking liquor from the vegetables.
It is colourful, simple and very tasty! I expect it hails from a time when there were only one or two pots in the household and so one would have been used to cook the vegetables in and the other the sauce part.
Serve this in shallow heated bowls, so that you can get all of that beautiful creamy sauce. Lots of buttered crusty bread is also a good go with so that you can sop up all of those rich juices.
Altogether it is a delightfully delicious meal that is a bit of a tradition in my home and I hope will become one in yours! When all else fails . . . just cook up a Hodge Podge where anything goes. (I don't recommend using beetroot however, unless you want it to have a decidedly unappealing colour!)
(a dinner of new vegetables)
This is not really a recipe as such, but something that my mother used to make us at times in the summer with fresh new vegetables. The amount varies according to however many people
you are feeding, and the amount vegetables you have ready to use. It is delicious. I could make a meal of this alone.
young bush beans (haricots vert, yellow or green beans, sliced runner beans etc.)
carrots (peeled young small carrots, sliced in half lengthwise if thick, or kept whole if very small)
potatoes (new baby potatoes)
peas (small freshly podded English peas)
cauliflower (broken into florets)
1 bunch of spring onions (try to get larger sized ones. Cut off and save the tops for another purpose. Use the bulb end (trimmed) and about 2 inches up the light
green parts. Cut in half lengthwise)
(any other fresh vegetables as you have available and in quantities to suit)
1 cup diced salt pork (I used 140g of unsmoked bacon lardons as salt pork is not available over here)
1 cup of heavy cream (250ml)
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
fresh thyme (optional)
Prepare the new vegetables as required. The beans, carrots and potatoes can all be cooked together in boiling lightly salted water, just until tender. I add the potatoes first, cook for about 8 minutes, then add the carrots and beans and cook for about 5 to 6 minutes longer, until crispy tender.
Cook the peas, cauliflower and asparagus separately, just until crispy tender. The peas you may just want to blanch. It depends on how well done you want them. We like them fairly fresh.
Drain all your vegetables well, reserving some of the cooking liquor. Toss them together in a bowl and keep warm.
Fry the salt pork (lardons) to a golden brown. Add the spring onions, and cook until slightly wilted. Stir in the cream and an equal amount of cooking liquor. Bring to the boil and then allow to reduce somewhat. Add the cooked vegetables and give them a good stir to coat. Heat for several minutes. Season to taste with some salt and pepper and a bit of thyme if desired. Serve immediately.