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I've been cooking for quite a few years now.
So many recipes have come and gone,
but there are wonderful classics that are as popular as ever.
In this series, I'll show you how to cook some of the best of them -
in my very special way.
I'm just saving on the washing up.
From classic home comforts that will put a smile on your face...
..to some favourites from the past that are making a great comeback...
And delicious light ideas that take no time at all.
Welcome to our secret garden, Mary.
I'm going to be helping with your school dinner.
-These dishes can often seem daunting,
but I'm going to show you some tips and techniques that make them quick,
easy and simply delicious.
And, most importantly, with almost no fuss.
In this programme, I'm travelling
back in time to explore our foodie past...
I enjoyed that!
..and celebrate the best of this green and pleasant land.
Britain is blessed with a wonderful array of fresh produce,
and it's nice to know exactly where our food comes from.
Growing your own, whether it's in a garden or a herb box,
makes cooking all the more fun.
So in this programme, I'll be
celebrating some of our finest produce.
A classic way to bring out the best in our glorious veg.
The perfect idea for one of our most loved ingredients.
My mouthwatering way to serve a spring favourite.
And a tempting autumnal tart that's a fruity little crowd-pleaser.
But first, a delicious classic idea for all those delicate herbs.
This dish is my take on the French pistou sauce,
and I'm going to serve it with pasta
and it is delicious and easy.
Start by cooking the linguine in salted boiling water.
While that's boiling, I'm going to
get on with the glorious pistou sauce.
So what is pistou?
It's a French version of pesto,
without the Parmesan cheese and without the pine nuts.
I've got some chives here - very easy to grow at home.
Just keep nibbling at it and it'll go on all summer.
Roughly chop the chives, and they'll be our base.
Then I want a nice little bunch of parsley.
I really love fresh herbs.
They give most dishes a lift.
Then I'm going to have some basil.
I've got a lovely plant here.
Now, this is the sort of plant you'd have on your windowsill.
Now, if you just look there, there's a big spray at the top here,
so I'm taking it down there.
Now, just have a look and you'll see two more little shoots coming.
If you water it and feed it they will come back like that.
So in goes the basil.
Pistou is herbs, oil and garlic.
But instead of oil, I'm adding creme fraiche.
And some sharp lemon to give it a lift.
That's it - that's done.
Look at that amazing green colour.
Absolutely cram-jam full of herbs.
The last step is to fry off 500g
of chestnut mushrooms in some sizzling butter.
I like them the best of the mushrooms,
because they hold their flavour and shape.
Saute them until they're a gorgeous golden brown
and those juices have evaporated.
Then I'm going to add our wonderful pistou sauce.
In it goes, like that.
Throw in the cooked pasta, and for that velvety touch -
some grated Parmesan.
And you can imagine those flavours go really well together,
a wonderful, glorious fresh taste.
And a little Parmesan cheese over the top.
So there it is, pistou pasta - my take on the French classic.
When it comes to leafy veg,
watercress has been a firm favourite for centuries.
Here in the Hampshire meadows, it still grows rampantly.
Mineral-rich spring waters are filtered through chalky beds
to create the perfect environment.
Cultivated on farms since the 1850s,
it was once a hugely labour-intensive process,
involving every member of the village.
Obviously they use machinery now,
but Penny Ede, who's been farming these fields for 35 years
hasn't always had this luxury.
How much watercress can that machine cut in an hour?
Between one and a half to two tonne an hour.
It is quite incredible, comparing to how we used to do it by hand.
Now, come on, if you had to do it by hand, to get that amount,
how long would it take one person?
Well, it would take days.
-Days. So it's changed the industry.
-Very much so, yes.
I'm so excited to see how it was once done.
Well, if I stop about here and we place the basket down...
What we used to do is take a very sharp knife
and we used to gather it within our hands.
You're getting a lot in there.
You certainly are.
Go quite away from your hand and you cut.
-And you haven't lost a finger...
-I certainly haven't.
-You've kept it well away from you.
-So I'm to have a go.
Right. Gathering it up into one hand...
Make sure your knife's low down, away from your fingers.
I've no intention of cutting my fingers, I might say!
-And then slash it.
It's about half the size of your bunch,
and I've also got some root on there, so I'll gently go back.
-That's not too bad, is it?
-That's fine , that's lovely.
Oh, isn't that beautiful?
Do you know, Penny, I was brought up on a farm and we, believe it or not,
had watercress beds.
And my favourite thing was watercress sandwiches
with raspberry jam.
Wow. What a combination!
Anyway. We've done quite a lot.
-We have, yeah.
-Put the knife in there.
-Off we go.
It couldn't be fresher than picked straight from the field,
and what better way to use it than in this classic?
With my own special twist, of course.
Usually you make watercress soup with potato,
but celeriac I think is far nicer.
You get that hint of celery and it really is scrumptious.
Slowly soften two chopped onions in butter.
Make sure they're on a low heat.
Then cube the celeriac.
You only do this roughly.
The one thing that hits you at this stage is that it's a strong smell
of celery, which I love.
Add the celeriac to those delicious onions...
..and pour over some of your favourite stock.
Give that a stir and gently simmer until all that is absolutely tender.
Now for the star ingredient.
I've got 200g of watercress.
It looks an awful lot,
but I want it to be bright green and full of flavour.
And all I've got to do is to let this wilt down,
just like you would spinach.
Make sure all that hot stock comes over -
not too long, otherwise it'll lose its colour.
Next, we need to puree it.
Always a bit tricky with hot soup.
Make sure that it's absolutely upright.
Do it like that and it will go all over my worktop,
and it's me that clears it up, so...
Blend it till that vibrant green
comes out and it's beautifully smooth.
That looks just about right to me.
Four tablespoons of creme fraiche, and some salt and pepper
will give it that wonderful rich finish.
It's such a brilliant colour. So tempting.
And what better way to serve it than with some hot English muffins?
Watercress is definitely one of my favourites,
but there is another green vegetable that we couldn't do without -
And it makes the perfect companion to fresh salmon.
Let me show you a simple, timeless way of cooking salmon.
My special trick is to butter and then season a large piece of foil.
Then some dill - I absolutely love dill!
This is going to give real flavour to the fish.
And I'm going to put that down, flesh side down,
across the top like that.
It couldn't be simpler.
Just pour over the juice of a lemon.
Then a splash of white wine.
If you wrap it all into a tight parcel,
those juices will start to work their magic.
Take care not to overcook it.
So pop it in the oven, 160 fan, for around 25 minutes.
There it is.
That looks beautiful.
The skin won't be hard to remove if the salmon is still warm.
Just pull that off, right across like that.
Now it's time for my delicious asparagus topping.
To keep that striking green colour and crunch,
I've cooked them for just two or three minutes.
I just love asparagus.
Nothing goes better with salmon.
Then radish, cut thinly.
I think that looks just about enough.
Scatter over some shrimps, to give it a bit more punch.
And then some herbs.
That's a micro herb,
and it is a lovely colour because it goes well with radishes.
So the grand finale.
Drizzle over a simple mustard, lemon and dill vinaigrette.
It just makes it more lively and absolutely beautiful.
Well, I'm really proud of that.
It's something really special
for that occasion when you've got a crowd
and you want to push the boat out.
Today we take it for granted that we can buy vegetables whenever we want,
from anywhere in the world.
This wasn't always the case.
Here in Hampshire, the aptly named Watercress Line
is a fine example of how we once transported our food.
Today it's run by passionate volunteers.
-Good morning, madam.
-Good morning, thank you.
Like Chris Yates, who's agreed to let me join his engine crew.
And I can't wait.
Nice to meet you. Welcome to the Watercress Line.
And so what part do you play here?
Well, today I'm the fireman, so I'll be stoking the fire
to make sure we've got enough steam so we can go up the line.
-We've got Greg there in the corner who's going to do the driving
-for us today.
-And how old is it?
This particular engine - built in 1937.
And it's still going strong, with a lot of love, care and attention.
-Mary, would you like to come and join us?
-I'd love to.
You'll have to wear these pair of overalls.
-Oh, I want to look the part!
-I won't be a minute.
We'll see you in a moment.
While I get ready, Chris and Greg keep stoking that fire.
It will need to be a sweltering 400 degrees before we can get going.
-Are we ready?
-Gosh, it's quite cosy in here.
-It is cosy and warm.
-Wow, that's hot, isn't it?
That's very hot. No soggy bottoms on here, Mary.
Oi, watch it. LAUGHTER
-HE BLOWS WHISTLE
-Yeah, clear to go.
And we're clear to go.
HORN HOOTS Oh, that's lovely, isn't it?
This line was built in 1865,
and one of its main purposes was to transport vast quantities
of watercress directly to London's Covent Garden market.
It's beginning to chuff, chuff, chuff, chuff. How lovely.
But my goodness, this train is nearly 300 tonnes
and demands to be constantly fed -
quite a job for the men who would have once spent their lives on it.
Oh! It's pretty heavy.
Right. How many of these are we going to use?
-I think I'll hand it over to you.
Getting the watercress to London
opened up the market for so many farms.
It became very popular and was soon known as poor man's bread -
because Victorian workers could buy bunches for breakfast
as they made their way to work.
-I think you've done it before.
-I enjoyed that!
Ruined your hairdo.
How about that, then?
At its peak, there were thousands
of steam trains running across the country.
Of course, we transport our food in other ways today,
but some of the old lines, like this one,
have been lovingly restored.
-I've had a great time.
-I'm glad you enjoyed it.
-Thank you very much for having me.
-Thanks for coming.
-Thanks so much. Bye.
-Thank you, Mary. Bye.
It wasn't only watercress that found its way into more kitchens.
All sorts of food slowly became accessible to city dwellers
and meat was one of them.
Lamb has long been a staple of the countryside,
and it continues to be the go-to Sunday lunch.
I have the ideal classic way to cook it that is mouth-wateringly simple.
There is nothing more classic early in the season than lamb,
and I've got a beautiful fillet of lamb - sometimes called cannon.
The secret here is to start by seasoning,
then sealing the lamb in a hot pan.
Turn that over. Look, isn't that a gorgeous colour?
So I'm going to add some rosemary.
I'm going to put some underneath, and some on the top,
and that'll really permeate the lamb.
And now it wants to go into a really hot oven -
200 fan for eight minutes.
Of course, lamb is nothing without a delicious mint dressing.
Mint has happy memories for me because when I was about 14
I was horse-mad, or pony-mad,
and I used to go to gymkhanas and Mum would say,
"What do you want for supper when you come home?"
And I used to say, "New potatoes and peas,"
but the main thing was to have mint sauce on top.
And now I've sort of upgraded it and it's a mint dressing.
The base of this dressing is a classic mustard vinaigrette.
And I've got a nice fat clove of garlic there going in.
And my personal touch is fragrant fresh mint and chopped spring onion.
Now, that looks interesting - really fun and spring-like.
Look at that lamb - perfect.
There is a very strong smell of rosemary here, which is lovely.
To make sure it's tender,
rest the cannons for at least five minutes.
While you're waiting,
warm that delicious mint dressing with some seasonal green veg.
So I've got everything ready. All I've got to do is serve.
Just the right amount of pinkness.
Isn't that sheer perfection? I'm rather chuffed with that.
That fragrant minty dressing brings it all together perfectly.
I cannot think of a better combination than spring vegetables,
all bright green, and perfectly cooked lamb.
For me, nothing could be better.
I've always enjoyed growing vegetables,
and there's nothing better
than spending time pottering in the garden.
That's a pretty good head of garlic - enormous.
No wonder it's called elephant garlic.
Here I've got masses of parsley.
I think that's enough.
The main thing is we grow what we eat and what we enjoy.
I have a son that thinks kale is the best thing since sliced bread.
There is the sort of carrot you don't see in the shops.
This one's got two legs.
With all this wonderful produce to choose from,
there really is only one thing to do with them.
A delicious classic roast.
One of my most favourite things are roasted vegetables -
hot or cold, sometimes on toasted sourdough bread.
I can think of nothing better.
Use whatever veg you have to hand. Peppers give colour.
I nearly always choose the red ones -
not only do you get colour, but you get flavour.
Just bang them out.
I love roasted courgettes.
Good sized chunks, because then you get a bit of texture left in them.
And what about some thinly sliced aubergine?
And one of my favourites - butternut squash.
So if you just take rings like that,
you can get the peel off much more easily.
And then you just need to cut that into chunks.
There we are, in it goes.
Nothing will bring out their flavours more than some salt
and pepper and a drizzle of olive oil.
So in I go, and just work and massage it in.
Look at those beautiful colours!
30 minutes in a 200 degrees fan oven will soften them
while keeping them golden brown outside.
While the veggies are roasting, I'll get on with the dressing.
In the bowl I'm going to put a teaspoonful of mustard -
I love the grainy mustard. In it goes.
Add in a crushed clove of garlic and four tablespoons of olive oil.
Then a couple of tablespoons of balsamic vinegar.
This gives us a lovely colour and a very distinctive flavour.
A good teaspoon of sugar.
And finish it off with a finely chopped banana shallot -
for a bit of crunch.
Those veggies are looking good.
It's time to get them plated up.
They're so beautifully colourful.
There we go. A lovely combination.
And that'll add lots of flavour -
a little bit of sharpness from the balsamic dressing.
To really kick off this recipe,
I have one last touch - rich feta cheese.
And it contrasts, with the white and all these colours.
I think it goes really well.
Finish off with some wonderfully fragrant chopped mint and basil.
Do you know something?
This is a perfect meal without meat - you don't need it.
It's absolutely delicious.
Sitting with a glass of wine outside on a summer's evening.
It would be one of my most favourite things.
Of course it's not only about the vegetables.
The country also has wonderful hedgerows
and orchards laden with fruit.
I have the ultimate classic to celebrate them.
I'm going to make it in my own special way.
Tarte tatin has that wonderful layer of caramel on the top,
and I'm going to show you how to do it.
The secret to a textbook caramel is to use a stainless steel pan.
This will stop the sugar from crystallising whilst it dissolves
in a little water.
You never need be frightened of making caramel
if you do it this way.
Once all the granules have dissolved,
turn up the heat to a steady boil.
Now you can hear that bubbling away,
it will become quiet and rather thicker,
and then you need to look down in the pan
and see it's a pale golden colour.
That is perfect.
That smooth caramel now needs to be
set in an unbuttered fixed-base cake tin.
Let it cover the bottom of the tin.
So, onto the puree.
I've got a Bramley apple here, a really large one,
and I'm going to core it.
That took a bit of effort, didn't it?
It's nice to use a Bramley apple,
because it goes down to a mush and we want to puree.
I always add a bit of sugar, as Bramley apples
can be a little bit tart.
And then pop the lid on and it'll create steam.
Keep an eye on it and stir it until it's absolutely down to a mush.
Back to the tart.
Make sure you now butter the cake tin so nothing sticks.
And then slice some sweet English dessert apples for your next layer.
Tarte tatin is something really, really special,
and I would serve it because I'd got friends round for Sunday lunch,
or as a nice pudding on a special occasion.
So there's our pattern finished,
and then the rest goes on higgledy-piggledy on top like that.
Now, the puree looks good, and I'm going to mush it.
This is the perfect consistency.
This apple puree is my little twist on the French classic
to make it extra special.
Finally, the puff pastry.
To keep things simple, a pre-rolled sheet,
cut to just a little bigger than the tin, will be perfect.
I'm making it bigger because I want to tuck the edge in.
To get a wonderfully crisp top,
a little cross in the centre will release all of the steam.
Just 40 minutes in a 200 fan oven
will bake it until it's golden brown.
Well, I'm quite chuffed with that.
Now for the moment of truth.
One, two, three, four...
How about that? It's got such a gorgeous shine on it.
And we've got masses of apple and a nice crispy pastry underneath.
All we need now is a good fat slice,
and a dollop of creme fraiche.
That is sheer heaven.
Really absolutely scrumptious.
..ideas for timeless entertaining.
It is absolutely breathtaking.