Gardening Inspiration

It’s so good to be writing here again after an extended break. Our busy time on the farm has ebbed and I finally have time to chronicle our adventures.

Last weekend we were still basking in the novelty of rain when it was time for the monthly meeting of my beloved produce swap group.

Every month we meet at someone’s garden or a local cafe for morning tea, lots of visiting, and a swap of homegrown produce, homemade goodies, and an assortment of seedlings, cuttings, and plants.

pink lilies

I never fail to return home inspired. I love seeing how other people garden, what fruits, veggies, and flowers they’ve got, how they mulch and feed, and what they make with the things they’ve grown.

raised garden bed

And I especially love having good heart-to-heart chats with friends I often only see at these events. It’s so good to get caught up on children and grand-children, pets and spouses, jobs and health, crafts and books, and anything else that comes into our heads to chat about.

stump filled with flowers

We always go home with a myriad of treasures, and this time was no different. I returned to our farm with cosmos, alyssum, eggplants, and tomatoes ready to plant in my gardens, fresh eggs, fat beetroots, and berry bushes and herbs from my friend Kathy’s home-grown shop, Pots of Herbs and Punnets of Seedlings. Such richness!

I also came away with a recipe for exquisitely delicious Goat Cheese and Shallot Tarts by Mary Berry. Kathy made them and we all swooned over the buttery walnut-studded pastry and sweet onion-y filling. Delicious!

goat cheese and shallot tart

Where do you go for inspiration for your home, kitchen, or garden? xo

Goats’ Cheese and Shallot Tarts

by Mary Berry 


For the pastry:

175g/6oz plain flour, plus extra for dusting
100g/3½oz cold butter, cubed
1 free-range egg, beaten
30g/1oz walnuts, roughly chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the filling:

1 tbsp oil
500g/1lb 2oz banana shallots, thinly sliced
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp light muscovado sugar
300g/10½oz soft goats’ cheese
2 free-range eggs, beaten
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

Preparation method:

1. Preheat the oven to 200C/180C Fan/Gas 6. Put a large baking tray in the oven to heat up.
2. To make the pastry, put the flour, butter and a little salt into a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Alternatively, place in a mixing bowl and rub the butter into the flour using your fingertips. Add the beaten egg and a tablespoon water and mix until a ball of dough is formed.
3. Lightly flour a work surface and roll out the dough thinly (about 3mm/⅛in thick). Sprinkle the chopped walnuts over the pastry. Cover with cling film and roll over the cling film to press the nuts into the pastry. Cut out 8 large circles using a pastry cutter or saucer as a guide and line the Yorkshire pudding tins. Place in the fridge to chill while you make the filling.
4. Heat the oil in a lidded frying pan, add the shallots and cook over a high heat for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Lower the heat, cover and cook for 10 minutes until soft. Add the vinegar and sugar and cook for 15 minutes, stirring every now and then, until the shallots are dark brown and caramelised. Set aside to cool.
5. Put the goats’ cheese, beaten eggs and half the parsley in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper and mix until smooth.
Prick the bases of the chilled tart cases all over with a fork, then spoon in the shallot mixture. Pour the goats’ cheese mixture over the shallots.
Slide the tins onto the hot baking sheet and cook for 20 minutes, or until the pastry is crisp and the filling is just set and golden-brown. Sprinkle with the remaining chopped parsley and serve warm or cold.

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