The Sunday Telegraph - Sunday

A traditiona­l plot comes back to life


Christmas drink and decide quantities and varieties, and then place their order. The relationsh­ip between cook and gardener should be at the heart of every veg plot. “Growing ingredient­s for the kitchen and cut flowers for the house is one of the most rewarding ways to garden,” says Tom. Tom also plans a cropping diary so the kitchen is aware of what’s available for their menus, and the chef visits the garden every day. A good tip for any gardener before the weekly shop is to check their plot first. No one can compete with Spanish polytunnel­s on quantity, but nothing beats the flavour of a strawberry that has just been picked, and what could be better than a bunch of sweetpeas straight from the garden? It’s the seasonal delights that matter, especially on the plate. Gravetye has another speciality – homemade potting compost. Tom uses local horse manure – he visits nearby stables to find just the right balance of manure to straw (not woodchip, it takes too long to rot down) – and adds green manure from the plot and debris from the henhouse. The mixture is turned three times with a tractor. It’s as painstakin­g a process as any of their prizewinni­ng recipes. George Blogg’s recipe for apple chutney Soak 250g sultanas overnight. Sweat 300g finely diced onions till soft in 20ml rapeseed oil, with 10g fennel seeds, 1g ground clove, 2g ground cinnamon, a finely sliced red chilli and 10g mustard seeds. Add the drained sultanas, the juice and zest of an orange, 150g dark brown sugar and 200ml white wine vinegar and simmer for 15 minutes. Add 1.5kg of peeled, cored and diced cooking apples and cook for 10 minutes till soft. Place in sterilised jars. ‘Crown Prince’ pumpkin and chestnut dauphinois­e Simmer 700ml double cream in a pan with a quartered shallot, 6 whole black peppercorn­s, 2 crushed garlic cloves, 2 sprigs of thyme, a bay leaf, salt to taste and a generous grating of nutmeg for 10 minutes. Pass through a sieve. Peel and quarter the pumpkin with a bread knife, remove the centre with a spoon and slice the flesh. Layer in an oven dish, with 200g sprinkled chopped, cooked chestnut and a little of the cream between layers. Bake in an oven at 160C for 80 minutes until the pumpkin is soft. Fry 80g pumpkin seeds in 15g butter and sprinkle on top.

 ??  ?? Walled wonder: Gravetye Manor’s garden; Tom Coward, below
Walled wonder: Gravetye Manor’s garden; Tom Coward, below
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