30 July 2014

Kitchen Garden Experts

We love kitchen garden books.  That being said, Kitchen Garden Experts is quite extraordinary. We came upon this very British book by way of the photographer, Jason Ingram.  We love, love, love him.  He photographed our favorite cookbook of recent memory, The Ethicurean.  So now we have kitchen gardens and Jason Ingram!  Add in Cinead McTernan, the editor of The Simple Things magazine, who manages to corral gardeners, chefs, recipes and dynamic photos to pull it all together and you have a great book.  In the old stereotype, the English were great gardeners but rather lousy cooks.  This book proves that they are both. 

Raymond Blanc's 27 acre Le Manoir garden
 To start with, this is not your raised bed in the backyard type of kitchen garden.  These are farms, educational centers, walled ecosystems, and plots with elaborate greenhouses.  There are a few gardening tips, but the biggest tip is to hire a full time gardener!  As for the recipes, don't think just because these guys grow their own peas that the menu will feature a nice bowl of mushy peas.  These chefs haven't gone to the expense of hiring passionate gardeners and fussing over ingredients to simply toss them in a salad. 

The recipes are often long, with several preparations to achieve the final dish.  There is Chef Duncan Barham's whose dish, Beetroot Textures, requires eight different preparations to pull off  his beet salad.  Then we have the ever elegant, yet simple Ruth Rogers of River Cafe with a Sorrel Frittata. 

The book features venerable names like Jekka McVicar and Sir Terrance Conran along with new kids on the block like the Pennington brothers and Mark Cox at the Ethicurean.  Some of the gardens were gardens in past centuries, some only a few years old.  The mix is intoxicating. 

David Kennedy and Ken Holland in "The Pod" bringing the kitchen to the garden.

One of our favorites, Skye Gyngell, who spent many years cooking in a small kitchen behind Petersham's Nurseries, has moved to a larger canvas, but retains a desire for home grown produce.  Here is her recipe for a simple syrup that transforms a plain, soft cheese into an elegant dessert.

Rose Hip Syrup

1kg/2lb 3oz rose hips
350ml/12fl oz water
750g/1 1/2lb caster sugar

1. Wash the roe hips and remove their stalks.  Pulse the hips in a food processor to chop coarsely.  Quickly place the hip pieces in a saucepan of 175ml/6fl oz boiling water.  Once the water has come back to a boil, remove the pan from the heat and let it stand for 15 minutes.  Then strain, reserving the liquid.  In another 175ml/6fl oz boiling water, repeat the boiling process and strain once more. Having strained off the liquid, this time discard the rose hips.

2. Measure the strained liquid, then put back in the saucepan on the heat.  For each 1 liter/1 3/4 pints of strained liquid add 750g/1 1/2 lb caster sugar.  Stir to help dissolve the sugar.  once it has boiled and the sugar dissolved, remove from the heat and pour the sugar into sterilized jars to cool. 

Kitchen Garden Experts is a must have.  The biggest problem is where to shelve it.  Maybe we should get two copies, one for the cookbooks and one for the gardening books!  Not a bad idea.


  1. I remember having rosehip syrup as a child. I must try to make it this Autumn. I make rosehip jelly but this will be a new one for me! Thank you for the review and recipe. Jane x

    1. I am fond of a rose pedal jam. Let us know how your syrup comes out. Send photos!


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