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Home / Recipes / Pip's Tips(35 products)
Home / Recipes / Pip's Tips(35 products)


There is something unmistakeable about the smell of young wild garlic growing in the woods. It’s the smell that beckons the forager in us, that makes a wild cook of us all. The special delight of finding it in your box from Farm Direct at this time of year should tell you something of lighter evenings and put a spring in your step.

Wild garlic can be shredded and carefully added at the last minute into stir fries or with even more caution in salads but one of my favourites is to make a salsa by blending the leaves with rapeseed oil, lemon juice and seasoning in a mortar. This makes for a sharp garnish for what I call four onion soup.

Soften white, Spanish, red and spring onions (throw in all the green bits) roughly chopped in olive oil with plenty of salt and pepper. When they are about to turn a little brown, add chicken stock or a quality vegetable bouillon and top up with water and the juice of a lemon. Blend it all and pour in a generous glass or two of decent white wine (if you haven’t read my book then I’m not repeating myself but never use wine in cooking that you wouldn’t drink).

Serve the soup piping hot with croutons and drizzle lashings of the wild garlic salsa.

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Home / Recipes / Pip's Tips / Glorious Game(6 products)

Buying fruit and vegetables during their natural season typically rewards you with the best flavour and quality, with natural light serving to sweeten and aid the growth of the pant. Forced rhubarb is the exception, with it’s pink, tender stems, an altogether sweeter prospect than the tough, outdoor reared variety available from April.

As a boy, growing up on a farm in Scotland, there was lots of it hanging about in the autumn and winter months. The birds, mainly pheasant, partridge and a few wood pigeon would be decked across the eaves of the potting shed, summoning up a gamey whiff before being plucked.

I didn't really shoot. I tried a few times with my friend who had a shotgun.
But I preferred to listen out for the crackle of the field fares descending on the hedgerows than exploding gunpowder. Not that I had a problem killing birds to eat. But as boys we deployed a far more subtle form of slaughter.
We'd make our way with stealth up to the fir tree plantation just as the sun was going down. And using a catapult and ball bearings we'd knock the pheasant stone cold out of the lower branches where they'd be roosting for the night. I'm ashamed to say I was an instinctive poacher and quickly developed a clandestine arrangement with the local game dealer.

These days a brace of Suffolk pheasant or Wild Mallard from Ben Rigby Game in Essex have to suffice to create that ambiance. And though you don't need to go to extremes most game birds do benefit from hanging around for a bit. It softens the flesh. But sadly, most are no longer actually 'hung' so my mother recommends leaving them in the back of the fridge for a week where, they acquire a nicely intensified gaminess.

When you are ready to cook them, rub the skins with salt and let them air for a while. I grate orange zest and crush red peppercorns over them before covering them in streaky bacon. This helps to keep the birds moist while they roast (roughly 220 first 20mins and 180 the rest). You can remove the bacon in the last 10 minutes to let the skin brown.

All sorts of different seasonal root vegetables go well with game. Have your pheasant with very thinly sliced celeriac chips, fried in oil until crisp, roasted parsnips with cumin seeds and honey and pureed pumpkin with butter.
To keep your palate clean, try shredded kale, stir fried quickly in sesame oil with a dressing made from the leftover orange juice, red wine vinegar and clarified butter.

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Home / Recipes / Pip's Tips / Tinned Fish(16 products)

There is a wintry episode in Wind in the Willows where Mole is ashamed to have brought the hospitable Ratty to his own humble home, with nothing to eat on a cold night. His sanguine chum, dependable as he is, immediately takes charge and summons every morsel left in the cupboards including a tin of sardines. 

The fact is that fish tin well and Fish4Ever are leading the way with sustainably caught produce. During these winter months when the range of fresh produce is scarcer and the weather prevents our boats from returning such bountiful catches, we can do well to stock our cupboards with a few of these tasty supplies.

With the smaller varieties, like sardines and mackerel the bones are softened and the calcium and many of the essential fishy oils we need in our diet are preserved. The Fish4Ever range at Farm Direct also includes, Alaskan salmon and Skipjack tuna (notwithstanding the propensity of oily fish returning on the breath at inopportune moments!).

A tin of sardines served on wholemeal toast is one of the most complete and beneficial meals you can have. For a delightful lunch or light supper, open the can and save the oil separately. Season the fish in a bowl with lemon juice and freshly ground pepper. In my view reheating is unnecessary. Use (as always) the best quality bread you can buy and toast. I use the leftover oil to fry the bread or you can add it to a dressing. Serve with some wilted spinach or kale, finely chopped and stir-fried.


Philip’s new book Cooking without Recipes is available from Farm Direct at £7.49. Philip is currently cooking at Islington Barn every week Fridays-Sunday.

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Home / Recipes / Pip's Tips / Goat Butter(2 products)

A new treat on the shelves at the moment is the goat butter from Yew Tree Farm. When Robert first gave me a sample, I wasn’t sure that the strong taste would work but in the right balance it really lends a unique flavour, particularly to pack a punch in vegetarian cooking. I recommend a squash pâté. They are in such plenty right now and need using up.

Throw a whole squash in the oven until it’s soft. Slice in half and get rid of the seeds. Melt a decent size lump of goat butter (be generous as you would be with a meat pâté and add garlic chopped fairly large until it starts to brown. Scoop out the squash flesh into the pan with black pepper, salt and lemon juice. Stir the whole into a soft paste, add some chopped fresh herb, something with a gentle flavour like tarragon or coriander and turn into a dish to set. Then just spread it on some more of that toast.

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Home / Recipes / Pip's Tips / Cooking Mutton (11 products)

Farm Direct are working with some farmers I wholly admire. Nicola and Toby Bulgin have been taking a totally modern approach to organic farming since taking over Brook Hall Farm in Essex more than 10 years ago. Recognising the important balance between acting as nature’s guardians and providing a quality product they’ve been breeding French sheep from Cahors, which have been flourishing and are able to breed all year round.

When I was young we only ever had Spring Lamb as a special treat and it was always a scrag end (neck) of mutton that kept us sustained in the pot on the stove. But mutton went out of fashion in the 1970s with the aggressive marketing of cheap imported  New Zealand Lamb. But it’s worth buying and cooking. It’s really just lamb that’s a bit older, but has richer flavours and stronger taste and requires long slow cooking. Lots of people find sheep fat hard to digest, so whatever you need to cook it long and slow. The best way for a stew (and if you have time) is to put the whole joint in water and simmer for a couple of hours, letting it cool and then skimming off the fat. Then you add the seasoning and vegetables. I often simmer it in something like dark beer which brings loads of flavour to the dish. Then just leave well alone. As many hours as it needs; so that the meat is falling apart.

If you want to slow roast mutton, the shoulder is a good joint but you need to trim away some of the fat to begin with. Cut incisions long-ways all over the joint. In a pestle and mortar crush some spices such as cumin and fennel seeds with paprika. Add cloves of garlic, a few salted anchovies, the grated zest and juice of half a lemon, a splash of soy sauce and olive oil, tomato purée and pound to a paste. Insert this mixture into deep incisions cut long-ways into the meat. Place the mutton in roasting dish on a bed of sliced fennel. Then coat the outside of the flesh with the rest of the paste. Pour some white wine into the bottom of the dish. Roast in a hot oven initially until nicely browned, cover then turn down heat. Keep topping up liquid in the bottom (water and wine) to keep it constantly moist and cook long and slow for several hours (or more) until tender.  You can also put some potatoes in with the fennel, so when it’s ready you have an entire meal ready to serve at the table, with bread, something green like Kale or Brussels Sprouts tops and more wine.

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