Horseradish


What a great root!

It’s the question on everyone’s lips. I’ve been deluged with comments on the blog demanding an update. Audience members on Gardeners’ Question Time have been pestering the panel for months. I believe Toby Buckland even mentioned it on Gardener’s World just before he started clearing his desk.

Just what has been happening to the horseradish planted on The Drooling Vegetable’s plot back in April?

Well folks, you’ll be delighted to know that the wait is over. This week we have news of the great root, along with a mouth (and eye-) watering recipe.

But first, in a pathetic attempt to garner some gratuitous hits on the site courtesy of dim-witted search engines looking for keywords, let me just repeat some relevant phrases: Eye-wateringly enormous root. Spicy! Hot!

And now let me apologise to anyone who has stumbled across this blog looking for something rather different. Blame your search engine.

But I digress. So, after planting the fairly pathetic plants back in the Spring I politely ignored them throughout the summer as they went about their unremarkable business on the plot. No flowers, not particularly pretty foliage, all in all a deeply functional plant.

Last week, with Roast Beef on the menu, it was time to dig up a plant and see what was going on. And there they were: some tasty-looking roots! Not much thicker than a pencil, they looked a little parsnip-like, but with a reassuring, if faint, whiff of, well, horseradish.

So, back to the kitchen. No need to bother with a recipe for horseradish sauce. After all, you just grate it and mix it up with some crème fraiche, right? Well, it turns out it’s a bit more complicated than that. If you just do that then you end up with something that tastes really bland but makes your nose run and your eyes water. So here’s the recipe…

Horseradish sauce

Ingredients

Lemon juice

Horseradish (well, dur!)

Vinegar

Sugar

Salt

Crème fraiche / whipped cream / mascarpone etc

Grate your horseradish and stir it into the crème fraiche. About 3-4 tablespoons of root and about 100g of crème fraiche. Add 2 tbsp lemon juice and 1 tbsp vinegar. Add a bit of sugar and salt. Adjust all of the above quantities depending on your taste.

Serve alongside rare roast beef with Yorkshire pudding and a nice glass of Claret. Feel ineffably proud to be British / deeply envious that you are not British and cannot therefore experience such emotions.

On the ipod while eating: Dryyour eyes / The Streets. Told you it was spciy.

The perfect plant

I have found the perfect plant to grow on my allotment!

While wandering round the garden centre the other day I broke – as usual – my golden rule of not impulse-buying plants and picked up these two lovely specimens for a fiver.

Naturally, eagle-eyed horticulturalists that you are, you will know what they will grow into, but for the benefit of casual passers-by, I will explain that you are looking at a couple of horseradish plants.

“Ah Drooling!” I hear you sigh, satisfied. “I know exactly why they are tailor-made for your plot”. You’re right, of course. But again, for the less well informed reader, I shall explain their all-round super-suitability:

1. They aren’t exactly beautiful. The back garden is a popular place in the summer, and the plants that live there have got to look as tasty as they….um…taste. Neither of those babies in the picture  is going to be covered in delightful flowers or aesthetically pleasing foliage. So being tucked away on the allotment is ideal for such modest plants.

2. They’re pretty big. Each of these tiddlers is going to grow into a bushy specimen about 1m by 1m. Again, in the back garden that’s about 500 bags of salad, two crops of radishes and all the swiss chard I can eat (which, I grant you, ain’t much). So again, the wide open spaces of the allotment beckon.

3. No-one else except me likes them. And even I won’t be using them much. I don’t really know what you use horseradish for apart from, well horseradish sauce, and with the best will in the world I don’t eat industrial quantities of that. But again, that’s the joy of the allotment: Even though they take up loads of room and I will only eat a small part of just a few of the roots, the allotment gives me the room to indulge such  foibles

I can now grow big ugly plants like these on the offchance that in about six months’ time I might decide that, hey, I’m too good for that jar of processed horseradish sauce, I’m only going to eat it fresh from now on.

Wonderful!