nene local | helen dawson


Category: Cookery

Hawkwell Herbs April Recipe

Tasty Bites for April laziness –  with the Herbs!


Spring is sprung and many people are out in the garden ‘doing stuff’!  If, like me, you prefer being outside to being in the kitchen, then this is the month to bridge that gap between slow cooking of hot, warming, food and the ease of a quick BBQ!  In Spring, I always go for tasty bites. Warm. But quick to make.


I am a great believer in not using supermarkets if you can, and instead supporting the amazing small food businesses that we are lucky enough to have in and around Northamptonshire. And this month I would like to introduce you to Waterloo Cottage Farm ( You will know that I am a huge believer in only eating  meat that has been ‘kindly lived and kindly killed’ and this amazing place meets those requirements for me. And, being an ex environmental lawyer, organic is the way to go for me.  So off I popped for a visit and returned with enough goodies to make my first Tasty Bites for Spring!


Pork and Garlic Chives bites


What do you for each person?

1 large cabbage leaf,  some butter/oil/lard,  a slice of pork,  a few Garlic Chives.  And a pan!


How do you make it?

Wilt your cabbage leaf so that it is malleable enough to use as a wrapping.  In your choice of butter/oil/lard, gently cook your pork in the pan.  Chop a few Garlic Chives (if you don’t have Garlic Chives, use garlic and onion – you will see now why Garlic Chives are so great as they avoid all that peeling and chopping!). Place your cabbage leaf on a chopping board,  place your cooked pork in the middle of it, with your Garlic Chives on top.  Wrap it all up in the cabbage leaf. Cut it in half. Welcome to your very tasty bite (or 2!)



A home made ‘lemonade’

Would you like something refreshing with that, to quench your thirst after all that outside work? Try making your own ‘lemonade’ using Lemon Balm (or Lemon Verbena or both!).   There are a number of different ways of making it depending on which herbs you have, how intense  you like the taste, and whether you would like to add sweetness.

lemonade hawkwell herbs

  1. Simplest way is to make some herbal tea with your Lemon Balm, leave it to cool.  Drink it as a cold tea.  Add Lemon Verbena or Lemon zest (if you have a lemon but the point about this drink is that you can substitute Lemon flavoured herbs for lemons) if you wish as part of the tea making brew.   Add sugar, (or Sweet Cicely or Korean Mint which are great sugar substitutes) if you have a sweet tooth.


  1. Or, for a little more of an intense flavour – take a pint of water, add about 10 long stems of Lemon Balm/Lemon Verbena to the water, bring it to the boil and then gently simmer it for about 10 minutes to get a more intense flavour than with the tea.  Add sugar if you wish or the sugar substitute herbs already mentioned (I don’t as I prefer a tarter lemon flavour than a sweeter one). Make sure you don’t let it burn dry! Then let it cool. Drain it to remove the leaves. Add some fizzy water (for those of us of a retro era, the good old Soda Stream comes in handy here..) to taste.


I always make too much, and let it go cold, and then put it in freezer cubes.  Ready to add to fizzy water on another occasion.


And, if you are ready for that gin and tonic at the end of your gardening exploits, add some to your gin and tonic for a burst of ‘lemoniness’…


Did you know?

Herbs are great for lazy cooks! Like me… I lose the will sometimes to peel and chop garlic and onions (a combination I love) so I always grow Garlic Chives which combine both flavours.  And sugar substitutes such as Sweet Cicely and Liquorice/Korean Mint are great for that sweetness of taste if you don’t have sugar to hand.


This month’s herbs encourage laziness!  Garlic Chives, Common Chives,  3 types of Lemon Balm. No more chopping, peeling and, in the case of lemons, having to go and buy some!   You can find them listed here:  and you can buy them at the Farmers’ Markets here during April:


 Where can you find the herbs this month?


Market Harborough Farmers’ Market – Thursday 4th April

Thrapston Farmers’ Market – Saturday 6th April

Olney Farmers’ Market – Sunday 7th April

Oundle Farmers’ Market – Saturday 13th April


And look out for the new cookery courses coming up in Sudborough soon!

More Information

Hawkwell Herbs

07970 597 017


Twitter: @hawkwell_herbs


January Herb Salad – from Hawkwell Herbs

Sara Dixon from Hawkwell Herbs has come to talk to us about cooking with herbs, her monthly slot will include some herby recipes, plus where to find her stall and how to order or buy…

It’s a cold January, so why a salad? We need taste still, we need to feel we are indulging still, but, let’s face it, we put ourselves under pressure to go ‘healthy’ at the beginning of the year.  This recipe has taste, indulgence AND health.

hawkwell herbs

What do you need?

Oil – oil of your choice – try using flavoured oils if you have any – try indulging with a nut oil if you are able.

Onion – I like to use red onions for colour AND strong flavour.  Chop your onion quite small after peeling.

Bulghur wheat or any other grain of your choice – as long as it is capable of filling you up.  You can even use beans if you prefer.

Herbs of your choice – I tend to go with whatever I have the most of! I have used Parsley, which survives cold, frost, snow… and I have gone for the flat leaved variety which I prefer to the curly, I’m using Mint and have gone for Moroccan as it has a punchy taste but try any flavour mint that you have, and Land Cress which, if you haven’t tried it, is peppery.

Preparation: Chop the herb leaves for the dish itself but RETAIN the stalks as well (see below)

  1. Cook your chosen grain/beans according to manufacturer’s instructions.
    1. If you are going with the Bulghur Wheat, it is one third wheat to two thirds water (in volume), bring to the boil, simmer for about 10 minutes.
    2. Drain any excess moisture away.
  2. Whilst cooking your grain/beans, start to gently fry your onion in the oil until it goes soft. This is when the natural sugars develop too. Which helps if you crave that still-remembered Christmas sugar hit!
  3. The amount of oil you add is up to you but this is a dish which involves Bulghur Wheat which soaks up the oil very nicely as part of the final mixing.
  4. Once the onion begins to go soft, add your herbs. Turn the heat right down and gently stir them until they too begin to wilt. I like some crunch to my herbs as well as rawness of flavour but if you are using herbs which need some cooking, stir them for longer.
  5. Then add your Bulghur Wheat/grains/beans to the herb mix and mix it all together well.
  6. Eat hot or cold.

Did you know?

Retain the stalks of herbs (unless they are used in the dish itself) as they still have a use! I use them in stock, stews, casseroles, even herbal teas/tisanes as they often hold a great deal of flavour.

hawkwell herbs

Where can you find Hawkwell Herbs this month?

Sunday 6th January – Olney Farmers’ Market

Saturday 12th January – Oundle Farmers’ Market

Saturday 26th January – Ely Farmers’ Market.

PLUS Sara delivers herbs in ‘HerbBella the Van’ to Loyalty Card customers on Mondays and Fridays to keep everybody topped up in between markets.

hawkwell herbs

Special events this month:

Monday 7th January – a healthy afternoon tea party hosted with AmbaScarlett

Sunday 27th January – Hanslope Vegan Winter Fair

Herb of the month for January

Another themed month!  A variety of herbs to help you make tasty herbal teas/tisanes, as well as herbs to pep up a winter salad.   As always, a Cooking Ideas booklet comes with each herb. All available at the Farmers’ Markets.



Vegan Delights from Pure and Raw Goodies

When someone says “Just to let you know my peanut butter ‘cheeseless’ cheesecake is packed with superfoods and wholefoods including nuts, cacao and coconut oil.

All my products are vegan, gluten free and refined sugar free” I just have to go and investigate.


Pure and Raw Goodies based over in Weston Favell produce vegan, raw well…err….  Goodies!!


I saw Sheena posting on Facebook about her vegan, refined sugar free Easter Eggs recently and knew I wanted to find out more about what she did.

pure and raw goodies | nene local

As some of you may know, I run a magazine called Aspen Girl, as well as Nene Local.  Aspen Girl is all about mind, body, spirit.  Last week my husband and I were trying out a vegan way of eating.  The idea of trying a vegan ‘cheese’ cake was going to go down a storm.


I collected from Weston Favell but Pure and Raw Goodies also sell through Daily Bread and Beckworth Emporium too.  Some items can be posted but not this lovely ‘cheese’ cake.

pure and raw goodies | nene local

Sheena informed me that the dessert would last a good few weeks in the fridge as with no cheese, butter, eggs etc in it there is very little to go off.  I’m not sure she anticipated my husband who said no way will it last in OUR fridge!  (He was right!!)


The dessert’s base, inner ‘cheese’ bit and ‘chocolate’ topping was incredible.  Very rich and satisfying and extremely filling.  I couldn’t eat a huge slice in one sitting, so it did mean it lasted a little longer.  Although it was Peanut Butter Cheeseless Cake, it wasn’t such a strong taste it knocked you sideways, the flavour was subtle but really nice.  I particularly loved the base, which I’d have happily eaten on its own as a cookie!

pure and raw goodies | nene local

My husband is a big cheese cake fan and so he was quite unsure about this vegan interloper.  To begin with……  most evenings until we finished it he would say “Shall we have a bit of that cake?”

pure and raw goodies | nene local

Keep an eye on the Pure and Raw Goodies Facebook page as she does various food fairs.  Although we would highly recommend looking through her page and just ordering yourself a little hamper to try!!!


More information


Pure and Raw Goodies

Telephone:  07792 287854







Happy Yummy Easter from DonnaLulu Cooks!

This is a tasty fruit cake for Easter. It’s an all in one method, so it’s easy too. You can also add some brandy or rum to the mixture to make richer!

Simnel Cake

180g softened butter

180g light brown sugar

4 eggs

1 tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp ground allspice

½ tsp ground ginger

300g mixed dried fruit (sultanas, currants raisins)

Zest and juice of 1 orange (or lemon)

Approx. 400g Marzipan

Dusting of cornflour for rolling

Runny honey or apricot jam to stick the marzipan on top

Simnel Cake

Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 3/160C/140C fan oven. Grease a 7-inch round deep cake tin and line the bottom with greaseproof. (A spring form tin works well).

Lightly flour a work surface with the cornflour and roll out 1/3 the marzipan until it’s approx. ½ cm thick. With the cake tin, cut a disc out of the marzipan for the middle of the cake, and set aside. Roll up the rest of the marzipan and cover until needed later.

This is an all in-one method and can be mixed in a stand mixer or with a hand mixer. Place all the ingredients apart from the marzipan into a bowl and whisk until they are all well combined.

Spoon half the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth out. Place the rolled-out disc of marzipan on top and then spoon the rest of the cake mixture on top of the marzipan. Smooth the top and bake for 1 ¼ to 1 ½ hours or until a skewer placed in the centre of the cake comes out clean. Allow to cool and remove from the tin.

Once cooled, roll out another disc of the marzipan. Brush the top of the cake with some runny honey or warmed apricot jam and place the marzipan disc on top. Roll out the remaining marzipan into 11 balls, brush one side with some of the honey/jam or this can be done with some water, and place the balls evenly around the edge of the cake. Happy Easter & enjoy!