Sep 23

Cheap and yummy recipes – ingredients from the garden

Why spend money when you can source delicious ingredients from your garden or the nearby countryside – check out Sarah Locketts recipes from the garden.

A windfall of apples

cheap recipes - apple tartWhat do you do when you suddenly come into lots of…apples? Bake Apple Tart of course!

I have grown very long arms lately (ie a stepladder) for nicking my neighbour’s apples. To be fair, SOME of them are growing over the pavement, so I feel justified in taking them. However, I have told my kids that they are wild and therefore OK to take – just so they don’t think their mother is a thief.
So, now I am flush with windfalls (apples), and I have been mostly making apple pie, apple tart, apple crumble and apple sauce.

Speaking of pies, 1kg store-bought shortcrust pastry costs £2.48 in Tesco/Waitrose. If you make it yourself with 600g flour (64p), 300g butter (£1.38) and a bit of salt (5p) it’ll cost you £2.07. Not a huge saving, but it’s all money. And it is easy in a food processor. Incidentally 1kg pastry is a lot. So cut it in half and freeze half for another day.

Also, you may have to cut a few bad bits out of the apples but you shouldn’t expect perfection for free!

Windfall Apple Tart

Ingredients: (serves 6-8)

  • 300g plain flour
  • 150g butter
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Water
  • 6 eating apples or 3 Bramley cooking apples (peeled and cored)
  • 50g sugar
  • 50g sultanas
  • 1 tsp cinnamon or mixed spice
  • 100g Crème fraîche
  • Milk for glazing


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
  2. Blitz the cold butter with flour and salt in a food processor.
  3. Add a little cold water till it comes together into a dry ball (you don’t want it wet).
  4. Roll out on a floured surface (or if, like me, you use gluten-free flour, just press it into the pie dish as it’s too crumbly to roll).
  5. Scatter the sultanas over the pastry (you don’t want them on the top or they’ll burn), then the apples mixed with spice.
  6. Sprinkle sugar on top and drizzle the crème fraîche.
  7. If you have a few scraps of pastry left then make some twisty lattice things or star shapes for the top.
  8. Glaze with a little milk.
  9. Bake 30 minutes, or more, until the pastry is golden brown.


Homegrown Rhubarb Mousse

Photo: Sarah LockettAs promised, here’s my Homegrown Rhubarb Mousse recipe, made using said vegetable (yes that’s right, it’s a veggie not a fruit) from my garden plus my last packet of gelatine (sell by date 2006 – so, accounting for inflation, almost free). Lovely, light and tangy with a touch of Spring about it and the warm recession-proof glow of making food from your own foraging/gardening efforts.


Ingredients (makes 6):

  • About 15 sticks rhubarb (depending on how thick)
  • 150g creme fraiche
  • 150g plain yoghurt (or cream, or a mixture)
  • 100g sugar or agave nectar
  • 100ml water or apple juice (in which case, reduce sugar)
  • 2cm piece root ginger, peeled and finely diced


  1. Wash and de-leaf the rhubarb and cut into 2cm lengths.
  2. Put in a microwave-proof bowl with water/juice, ginger and sugar.
  3. Microwave on full for about 10 minutes, stirring halfway through, until the rhubarb is soft.
  4. Meanwhile, add the gelatine powder to half a cup of boiled water (never the other way round!) and stir until the granules have dissolved.
  5. Add the gelatine mix to the fruit and stir.
  6. Leave to cool a little, then add the creme fraiche and yogurt or cream.
  7. Mix well and pour into ramekin dishes or pretty glasses.
  8. Refrigerate till set (a few hours).

Serving: Serve as they are or with piped/squeezy cream or crystalised ginger, diced. Or some crystalised rose petals would look Spring-like, or crystalised violets, which you can buy.

A word on root ginger: Whenever I buy this I peel it and cut it into matchsticks (or very fine dice) and freeze it. It keeps for months/years. It freezes well and you’ll always have it there when you need it for stir fries, desserts and jams that need a little kick.


Nettle time!

So, to the first nettle recipe of the season, which my 13 year old daughter pronounced “creamy and lovely”, not at all nettley. I’ve even left it a bit late in the spring to start cooking with nettles, you might say, because you only need the tender tops. Certainly don’t leave it until they’ve flowered or are looking a bit old and woody, into the summer. But, so long as you take just the top, say 5 or 6 leaves, you’ll be fine. And use gloves to pick and handle them. After they’re cooked, the sting has gone.

Recipe: Nettle Cream Sauce

Ingredients: (for 4-6)

small bagful of nettle tops, say, 1/2 a standard supermarket bag

1 onion

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1-2 tbsp olive/sunflower oil

1 chicken/beef/veg stock cube (I use Oxo)

slosh double cream (or single)

washing nettles, photo: Sarah Lockett

washing nettles, photo: Sarah Lockett

Method: Wash the nettles and snip off the woody stalks, if the ends have dried out since you picked them. Peel and chop the onion and garlic, and fry gently in the oil, in a lidded saucepan. add the nettles with the water still clinging to the leaves – you need some moisture. Stir gently till the leaves have reduced in volume. Add the crumbled stock cube and cream, and maybe a splash or two more water, if it needs it. Blend in a food processor/liquidise in a blender, and serve with a salmon fillet (cooked in the microwave is quickest) or a chicken breast/fried halloumi, and a carb such as brown rice, as I did here.

Nettle cream sauce with salmon and brown rice: photo: S.Lockett

Nettle cream sauce with salmon and brown rice: photo: S.Lockett

It’s a lovely, mild, creamy, free foraged dish, packed with vitamins and iron. One of your five a day. 






rose hip and hawthorn jelly

“Hips and Haws” (rose hip berries and hawthorn berries). I spotted loads of them on a walk in Suffolk at the weekend, along with masses of elderberries. So I thought I’d do a quick recipe using up these FREE fruits, so they won’t go to waste before the winter sets in. You’ve got to be quick though (i.e. this week). It also uses up all those clean jars you’ve been saving for jam-making.


Ingredients: (for 3-4 jars, maybe more)

  • 1.2kg mixed rose hip berries and hawthorn berries
  • 300g elderberries
  • 1.8 litres water
  • 375g sugar per 500ml liquid
  • juice of 1 lemon per 500ml liquid


  1. Wash the berries and de-stalk the elderberries (slip them off by sliding them through a fork).
  2. Cook in a large saucepan with the water until soft, about an hour.
  3. Put a colander lined with muslin over a large bowl or another big saucepan (you can try with kitchen paper but muslin is best – or old, clean tights!).
  4. Gently pour in the fruit mixture and leave to drip through overnight. If you stir/squeeze slightly to get the last of the goodness out, the jelly will become cloudy and not so jewel-bright, but that doesn’t bother me.
  5. The next day, put 3 or 4 saucers in the freezer.
  6. Measure the liquid and add 375g sugar and the juice of 1 lemon to every 500ml liquid. Boil for 5 minutes.
  7. Then test for the setting point by putting a teaspoon of liquid on one of the chilled saucers and, when it’s cold, run your finger through it and see if a wrinkled skin forms.
  8. Repeat this every few minutes until you get a nice skin.
  9. Then pot up by pouring the jelly into clean, sterilised jars (run them through the dishwasher on a normal cycle then use while still piping hot).

This is a lovely accompaniment to cold meats, hams, cheeses and game.

Free blackberry & apple crumble

The blackberries are pretty much finished where I live, but the apples are just coming into their own – and pears. My neighbour (the derelict house) has two pear trees, two eating apple trees and one Bramley (cooking) apple tree. So the cats and I have been straight over there, “trespassing” as my other neighbour (the lawyer) puts it. I call it foraging.

Incidentally to find out where FREE apple/fruit trees are in your neighbourhood, check out Urban Harvest.

I picked about four punnets of blackberries recently and they kept well in the fridge for several days. Then I gave them a quick sluice in water and drained them in a colander. Then I was ready to make crumble. As I say, if you can’t find many blackberries then use a mixture of apples or plums, or whatever’s in season.

Recipe: Blackberry and Apple Crumble

Ingredients: (serves 6-8)

1kg blackberries, washed and/or apples, peeled and cored 

2 tablespoons homemade jam (or sugar)

100g butter

200g plain flour (I use gluten free here and it works well because it doesn’t need to adhere together much – crumbly is good!)

100g sugar

100g rolled oats

1 tsp ground cinnamon

Method: Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Wash and drain the blackberries and tip into a large-ish ovenproof baking dish. Add the peeled and chopped/sliced apples if using. Evenly distribute the jam or sugar on top. In a mixer, pulse the butter and flour until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Pulse in the sugar and oats – you don’t want to chop the oats to a powder – plus the cinnamon. Spread over the fruit and bake for 30 minutes or so, until the sugary juices have formed a lovely, bubbling syrup (which solidifies to a chewy deliciousness when it cools) and the crumble is tinged golden brown. Serve hot with creme fraiche, cream, plain yoghurt, top-of-the-milk (!) or custard. 



lemon balmI’ve found a patch of this delicious dessert herb growing wild in my street in London. It probably migrated there from someone’s herb patch. But for now, it’s free to anyone who can grab it. This is not an ice cream really. It had no eggs. But it is frozen and contains cream and I use it to make fresh fruit extra special, or for dolloping next to a chocolate cake or other fancy dessert that would benefit from a bit of zinging up.


Ingredients: (serves 6 – you don’t need much)

  • 50g g sugar
  • 50ml boiling water
  • 600ml double cream (or 2x 284ml tubs)
  • 100ml milk
  • 4 big stems lemon balm (or try mint? or lemon mint, or ginger mint.)


  1. Pour the boiling water over the sugar in a measuring jug and stir till dissolved.
  2. Cut/strip the leaves off the lemon balm stems and chop any larger leaves roughly.
  3. Put everything in a blender/liquidiser and blend until the lemon balm is chopped finely.
  4. Either use as it is, to garnish fruit or puddings or scoop into a plastic freezer box and freeze.
  5. It helps to defrosted a bit before you use it because it sets solid!


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