Philippa Vine, from Bluebell Farmhouse Kitchen, likes to keep things simple… and seasonal
"My husband Michael rears Southdown hogget, Sussex beef, chickens and pigs on a small scale to sell through our shop and at farmers’ markets like Lewes Food Market. We have a vegetable patch, and grow edible flowers and herbs to supply our other business, a cookery school, which opened last autumn.
"We hold seasonal, hands-on cookery and butchery classes, demonstrations and dining events in our converted granary fitted with beautiful Esse range cookers. We want people to feel they’re in a farmhouse kitchen: the school is relaxed, informal, and everything we use here is either foraged, from the farm or from other local producers. It’s all about the food. I’m greedy and I just love cooking. I think it’s really important that we share around the table.
"Because we live on the farm we’re so aware of the seasons. I grew up with this, and so it’s always been inside me to eat seasonally using what’s available. The media say it’s coming back but, to me, it was never lost.
"May is asparagus season, my absolute favourite, so for this recipe I called Graham Love in Herstmonceux. We grow our own asparagus but because we use lots, I always get more from Graham. I adore quick-roasting it with good quality olive oil like Mestó and also plenty of salt and pepper.
"The earlier asparagus is eaten after being picked, the better - another reason to get it straight from the producer. The fresher it is, the less time it takes to cook, and super-fresh asparagus roasts in a hot oven in under ten minutes.
"This recipe is very simple. As soon as we get our own produce out, I tend not to spice anything much because I want to taste the main ingredient. At our farm, we produce hogget, or one-year-old lamb. Unlike spring lambs that are cereal-fed, ours graze on grass. Being given time to graze improves the flavour and nutritional content of the meat, and this rack is just gorgeous, like fillet steak.
"For the sauce, I use garden parsley and wild garlic, which I also like to wilt in a hot pan to serve on the side as well, as you might with spinach. This recipe works just as beautifully with fresh mint, and if you have red wine and dark stock to hand, a jus is a welcome addition."
Ingredients: 2 racks of lamb/hogget, French trimmed; a handful of wild garlic leaves, washed; 5 sprigs of fresh parsley; juice of one lemon; 1tsp Dijon mustard; 1tsp Arlington honey; 1tbsp capers, rinsed; 120ml extra virgin olive oil plus more to serve; salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Method: Preheat the oven to 220°C. Season the meat and roast in the hot oven for about 15 - 20 minutes, depending on the size. Make a sauce by simply blending together all the ingredients in a food processor, or with a large pestle and mortar, and taste for seasoning. Allow the hogget to rest for 10 minutes, then carve and serve promptly with roasted asparagus; buttery new potatoes and wilted greens.