Eat Tapas Day Monday 28th February 2011

I have been sent an email about Spanish cuisine, produce and ‘Eat Tapas Day’ which is on Monday 28th February.

The information I have been given says that,

The fiesta, which falls on a Monday, is dedicated to the great Spanish custom of accompanying drinks with a small plate of food or ‘tapa’. Tradition has it that barmen in the Andalusian capital Seville, began the practice by placing slices of ham or cheese on top of glasses of sherry to protect them from flies; ‘tapa’ literally translates as ‘cover’ in Spanish. Tapas have since developed into a national obsession with most bars in Spain specialising in a particular dish. Going from bar to bar and trying a variety of tapas in each, known as ‘tapear’, is the favoured night out for Andalusians.

On ‘Eat Tapas Day’ the UK public is encouraged to have a go at making their own tapas feast or to search out their nearest Spanish restaurant. The farmers chose the 28th of February as it coincides with ‘Andalusia Day’, an important public holiday in Andalusia celebrating the region’s autonomy, culture and famous local produce such as tomatoes, peppers and aubergines.

Spain’s southern region of Andalusia is the home of much of what we think of as typically Spanish. It’s the birthplace of flamenco and fans and home to postcard-perfect sun-bleached villages. The cuisine is just as famous in its own right: gazpacho, Ibérico ham and sherry are some of the more well known Andalusian delicacies.

The area is nicknamed “Europe’s Vegetable Garden”, and fresh produce such as tomatoes, peppers and aubergines have always been at the heart of Andalusian cooking. The region is also the world’s largest producer of olive oil! Enjoying a taste of Andalusia’s healthy and vibrant cuisine has never been easier, as lots of the region’s finest fresh produce is available in UK supermarkets and green grocers.

I was also sent a series of recipes to share with you and here is my favourite Spanish recipe:

Andalusian Chicken Stew with Peppers

Andalusian Chicken Stew With Peppers

Andalusian Chicken Stew With Peppers

Preparation Time: 30 minutes

Cooking Time: 1 hour

Serves: 4

2 red peppers

2 green peppers

2 yellow peppers

4 tbsp olive oil

4 garlic cloves, chopped

1 tsp sweet smoked paprika (pimentón)

4 chicken legs

50g Serrano ham

250g tomatoes, chopped

250ml white wine

salt and pepper

Preheat the grill to high. Halve the peppers and cook under the grill for 20 minutes.

Place the peppers in a bowl, cover with cling film and leave to cool. When cooled, deseed and peel the peppers then cut into slices.

Heat the oil in a large pan and cook the garlic gently for a minute. Remove and reserve. Add the chicken and ham to the pan and cook until the chicken is golden brown. Add the tomatoes, wine, reserved garlic, paprika and the sliced peppers. Cover and cook over a low heat for 45 minutes or until the chicken is cooked. Serve with rice and green beans dressed with olive oil.

Calories per serving-


23g fat

5g saturated fat

39g protein

17g carbohydrate

15g sugars

4g fibre

0.5g salt

Let me know if you try this recipe!

For further information on Eat Tapas Day and for more tapas recipes visit

Spinach Beet Growing In Veg Garden & How To Use It

I have been growing spinach beet in the veg garden this year for the very first time. The leaves have started to get big and so I asked Topveg when I could start to harvest the spinach beet leaves.

Once I knew that the leaves were ready to harvest I wasn’t sure how to use them so again an email to Topveg and this is the reply I got,

The tiny leaves are good as salad – just need washing. Better to leave them a bit bigger for cooking as they cook down to nothing. They are lovely cooked – but need draining well – squashing in a collander – excellent with poached egg (quail) on top – or v good in lasagne – Delia has it in her 4 cheese lasagne.

The beauty of it is that it keeps coming- if you take care not to spoil the growing centers of the new leaves as you pick the old. If you can’t keep up with it – you must trim it off to stop it going to seed. Once it does that it stops giving you fresh leaves.

Yesterday we used the spinach beet leaves in a salad with hard boiled guinea fowl eggs. Looking forward to a summer meals using spinach beet leaves. If you have any recupes you would like to share using spinach beet then please let me know.

Enter your email address to receive regular emails with posts from the farmingfriends website: Delivered by FeedBurner

Vegetable Gardening April 2010

Today (Saturday) has been a gloriously sunny April day so I decided to get out in the veg garden. My veg garden has been abit of a disgrace so this year I am making a concerted effort to keep on top of the dreaded nettles!

A few weeks ago I planted broad beans, peas, runner beans and french beans. Shoots are coming through on the broad beans.

Today I have dug one of my raised beds and pulled out all the remaining nettle roots that were lingering!

I have managed to plant:

  • Radish – french breakfast and sparkler varieties.
  • Lettuce – all year round and little gem varieties.
  • Spinach beet.
  • Beetroot.
  • Cauliflower.
  • Cabbage.
  • Brussel Sprouts.
  • Purple Sprouting Broccolli.
  • Courgettes.
  • Carrots.

Farming Friends & TopVeg have now collaborated to create a series of vegetable growing cards instructions, so click on the links above to read the vegetable growing cards.

We have also written a set of herb growing cards.

How To Grow Herbs For Cooking eBook

How To Grow Herbs For Cooking eBook For Sale Only £3.00

How To Grow Carrots From Seed Instructions

The TopVeg website always provide me with excellent seed sowing information.

Farming Friends & TopVeg have now collaborated to create a How To Grow Carrots growing card.

How To Grow Carrots Instructions

How To Grow Carrots Instructions

If you would like this document as a pdf, just contact farmingfriends and I will email you the document.

I intend to print off copies and then laminate the sheet so that I can use the growing card in the future.

Teachers, children, vegetable growers and anyone interested in growing carrots are welcome to print off this growing card for their own use.

Other growing cards we have already created;

If you have any other growing cards that you would like Farming Friends & TopVeg to create then please leave a comment and we will be happy to create it for you.

How To Grow Herbs For Cooking eBook

How To Grow Herbs For Cooking eBook For Sale Only £3.00

If you would like to grow carrots then Thompson and Morgan supply carrot seeds.

Hessian Potato Sacks Available From TopVeg

I am delighted to announce that TopVeg are now selling hessian bags or sacks for potatoes.

The sacks are:

  • 50 x 80cm – not too heavy to lift.

  • ideal for storing potatoes, onions and garlic – allowing them to breathe and they do not sweat.

  • easy for the air to circulate through them.

  • each sack will hold approximately 28lb.
  • Introductory price for 5 sacks £5.45 plus postage & packing (UK only).

    Introductory price for 10 sacks £10.75 plus postage and packing (UK only).

Sorry – this offer is for UK only

To use TopVeg Hessian sacks:

  • fill them with dry potatoes – leave the potatoes out, spread thinly,  to dry naturally before putting in the sacks

  • do not wash the soil off the potatoes because washed potatoes will not store well, just let the soil dry before putting the potatoes into sacks

  • only store healthy potatoes, any damaged, bruised or diseased potatoes will not keep

  • once filled, store the sacks in a cool, dark place

  • check the potatoes regularly to make sure there is no wetness or smell.  If there is remove the offending potatoes.

  • keep inspecting the store for signs of rats and mice
  • TopVeg Hessian potato sacks are suitable for storing onions and garlic.