Sunday Telegraph "The leaves were exceptionally good".
Anneka Rice on Radio 2 - "Almost too beautiful to eat"

Friday, 28 November 2014

Lavender Honey Ice Cream

I know, I know….. it’s nearly December and the wrong time of year for ice cream but as I perused the garden yesterday there were still a couple of dozen lavender heads resiliently hanging on and I thought that this would be a lovely one to pop in the freezer and have with warm mince pies over Christmas.

Lavender Honey Ice Cream is simply delicious. It is just like eating a sultry summer’s day- fragrant and heady. Try and use English lavender rather than French because the latter has a much higher camphor level and is therefore more astringent and harsher. English lavender is regarded as superior for culinary purposes with a softer sweeter flavour. You can substitute with dried lavender but the flavour is just not the same.

Lavender and honey icecream. Buy fresh lavender from

We like all our recipes to be as natural and organic as possible but if you’d like your lavender  honey ice cream to have a lavender hue then just add a very small quantity of a mixture of red and blue natural food colouring. Mix on the edge of a saucer first to get a natural looking shade.

Ingredients for lavender honey ice cream

475 mls of full fat milk

6/8 sprigs of fresh organic culinary lavender (you can buy it from us)

70 ml of runny honey (use a really good quality one – you will taste the difference)

5 large egg yolks

60 grms of caster sugar

240 mls of double cream

1/8 pod of vanilla with the seeds scraped out.

1 teaspoon of honey and 1 sprig of lavender to garnish.

In a heavy bottom saucepan, combine the milk, vanilla and the honey. Drop in six sprigs of the lavender and bring to a very gentle boil.

Lavender and honey icecream. Buy fresh lavender from

Then remove from the stove and allow to cool down for about 10 minutes. Taste it to see how strong the lavender flavour is. Remember that when the ice cream is frozen the flavour will be reduced quite considerably so it need to be reasonably strong at this point.

Lavender and honey icecream. Buy fresh lavender from

If the flavour is very subtle then you might need to add the extra couple of sprigs of lavender and bring the whole lot back to the boil – gently – again. Once you are happy with the flavour then fish out the fresh lavender.

In a bowl whisk the sugar and egg yolks until the mixture is pale and creamy in colour. Gradually stir the mixture into the milk/honey combination in the pan and cook over a gentle heat, continuously stirring, until the custard mixture is thick enough to coat the back of your wooden spoon.

Take off the heat and stir in the double cream. Allow to cool and strain the mixture through a sieve before adding to an ice cream machine. If you don’t have an ice cream maker then pour into a tupperwear container and pop into the freezer. Every couple of hours remove from the freezer and thoroughly stir to prevent ice crystals forming. As with most homemade ice creams you might need to take it out of the fridge to allow it to soften a little before serving.

Serve with a drizzle of honey and lavender flowers.

Lavender and honey icecream. Buy fresh lavender from

This makes just under a litre of ice cream.

Lavender Honey Ice Cream

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Edible Christmas Wreath

Making Edible Wreathes. How to make Christmas Wreathes from Sprouts, Fruit, Nuts and Garlic.


I made this edible Christmas wreath for lovely Mandy who works for me. Mandy has a bit of a sprout fetish and starts eating them obsessively from the moment they hit the shops in November so this was her idea of heaven.

Fortunately we work in quite a large field!

If you’d like to make one you will need the following:

1 x 12 inch wire wreath ring

1 roll of florist binding wire

approx 50 florist stub wires

(all the above available online)

a few good handfuls of straw or hay
(but damp scrunched up newspaper would do!)

a large bag of chillies

approximately 4 kilos of sprouts

a bow

Start by peeling the outer layers from the sprouts and then loop them onto the stub wires approximately 4 at a time so they look like mini kebabs.

Wrap a good layer of straw or hay around your wire wreath base and secure by wrapping  around and around with the florist’s wire. Secure the florist wire to the metal base at the start and finish to stop it coming undone.

Then start to wrap your stub wires around the wreath base so that the sprouts form a solid mass at the front of the wreath and twist the two ends of the wire at the back to secure in place.

Continue all the way around the wreath until it is completely covered. You might need to include the odd wire with just two on here and there to ensure an even coverage as the outside of the ring is obviously wider than the inside but they are quite malleable. Using the smaller sprouts on the inside of the wreath and the larger ones on the outside also helps with this.

At this point pick up the wreath with the sprouts facing you and turn it slowly around clockwise to see which way is up. There will definitely be a point at which it looks right. Feel free to gently squish and squeeze it to get the shape correct. This is very important. When you are happy with which way is the top then turn it over and attach a hanging wire by looping a triple strand of wire across from one side of the metal wreath frame to the other about 1/3rd down. Keep it slightly slack just like with a picture wire so that when it is hung the wire doesn’t show across the central hole.

Next pair up chillies and hook them  either individually or in pairs through the end of a stub wire. Poke the other end of the wire down between the gaps between the sprouts so that it goes all the way through the wreath to the reverse side and then just fold over.

Attach a ready made bow either at the top or bottom of the wreath (as takes your fancy), or make a nice bow from some wired florist ribbon. Attach the bow to a hooked stub wire, just like with the chillies and poke through the base before folding around the back to secure.

Sprout Christmas wreath

Hang on a hook and enjoy!

Varitations on a theme. 


You can also make this wreath with rosemary, oranges and apples using exactly the same method except that you just wire on the rosemary to the base and then use individual stub wires to attach the oranges and apples. String the apples and oranges individually about 1/3 of the way through on a stub wire and fold the wire over tight to secure (remember they are heavy when they hang so they need to be secure). Push the other end of the wire through the wreath and fold back on itself to secure.

When all the fruit is secure hold up to see which way up looks best and then add your bow.


Making a wreath from nuts is time consuming but worthwhile as it will last for years if it is kept dry – i.e. in a protected porch.

Follow the method above up to the stage of having your wire base covered in straw. Wrap around with cling film to secure the straw in place and then cover with black industrial tape so the the background is black.

Nut Christmas wreath

Choose whatever nuts you prefer and secure them to the base with a glue gun. The overall finish is neater if you complete the outside edge and the inside edge with a ring of identical nuts (we used walnuts as a friend brings them back from their house in France for me) and infill with a selection of others. Alternatively you could use all the same variety of nuts.

Nut Christmas wreath


Either of the above methods can be used to make a garlic wreath but the latter, using the glue gun, is better as piecing the bulbs with the stubbing wires (the first method) makes for a very smelly wreath – perhaps better suited for halloween than Christmas. Using a glue gun to secure them means that after Christmas you can carefully remove the inner cloves and make some lovely pickled garlic or even just hang the wreath in the kitchen for use.

Garlic Christmas wreath

Which is your favourite?


Edible Christmas Wreath

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Waitrose Weekend Article on Edible Flowers and Maddocks Farm Organics.

It was lovely to meet Rick Lyons from Waitrose Weekend magazine when I talked about the importance of organic flowers, edible flowers, British flowers and bees (!) at the Soil Association Annual Conference a few weeks back. I was delighted when he contacted me to write this article. Waitrose is at the forefront of supermarkets for it’s support of organic, GM free and bee friendly products and also sells seasonal British flowers.

Thank you also to Neil White for the stunning photograph which I adore. :)

Waitrose Weekend Article on Edible Flowers from Maddocks Farm Organics.

Waitrose Weekend Article on Edible Flowers and Maddocks Farm Organics.