Tag Archives: recipe

Mighty Perennial Spears

3 Jun

Charred Asparagus

Charred Asparagus

It’s a lean time of year, the hungry gap, when the winter crops end and we wait in anticipation for the start of the main season. Greens are in particularly short supply, hence the celebration of the first harvest of asparagus at the start of May. Their bounteous sugary green spears, pushing up towards the light, ready for their month of fame.

Asparagus originates from the eastern Mediterranean and can also be found growing wild in maritime habitats throughout Europe. I don’t have the space to try and grow it, but friends tell me once it’s established, it keeps going providing you keep on top of the weeds. It’s worth having a go with one-year-old crowns, if you have the space to dedicate to it, and well draining soil.

If not, then look out for it at your local farmers’ market, it will be the first thing to go, so it’s worth getting up early for. Here’s a quick, satisfying dinner I came up with last week.

Charred asparagus with tahini yogurt, sumac and toasted hazelnuts

Takes about 30 minutes – Serves 2

500g asparagus 

handful of hazelnuts 

2tbsp of sumac 

For the sauce

20g tahini 

60g of thick yogurt 

1tbsp lemon juice 

half a garlic clove

For the bulgar

cup of fine-grain bulgar 

cup and a half of boiling water with a touch of bouillon powder 

1 small onion

1 clove of garlic 

1. Rinse the bulgar well and place in a large bowl. Cover with the boiling water and add a touch of olive oil. Cover with a tea towel.

2. Chop the onion and the garlic. Fry on a low heat in olive oil.

3. Chop the garlic for the sauce and whisk the remaining ingredients together. Add a touch of salt to taste.

4. Get a large frying pan hot and brown the hazelnuts. Smash up roughly.

5. Give the pan a quick rinse and heat again. Add 2tbsp of olive oil and add the asparagus in a single layer. Cook for around 3-4 minutes depending on the thickness of the spears. Season with salt and black pepper.

6. To serve, mix the fried onion and garlic with the now cooked bulgar. Divide the asparagus on to two plates. Top with the hazelnuts, dollops of sauce, and sprinkle with sumac. Enjoy!

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Love Your Brassicas

1 Nov

Gleaning cauliflowers in Kent

Fields of brassicas (Photo credit cc Feeding The 5K)

It’s a wonderful time of year for veg, autumn is the second spring right here in grey old blighty. Wild mushrooms are popping up under our feet, knobbley colourful squash are pilled high ripe for inspection in church halls, fresh wet walnuts are taking centre stage on the kitchen table eagerly cracked, baby leeks simmer ready for a weekday soup dinner and brassicas are harvested with green delight.

Brassicas are a family of veg that boast broccoli, kale (curly, Red Russian, dinosaur…) cabbage (red, white, green, Savoy, Napa…), brussel sprouts, pak choi and the often shunned cauliflower, not forgetting its close relation the Romanesco cauliflower, which is a definite looker.

Cast your mind back to school, queuing for a lunch of overcooked veg, bendy spoons and steamed puddings buried in cheap tinned custard layered with tepid skin. Now all that is going to disappear once you try my roasted cauliflower recipe which is so easy to make. It’s alive with flavour and has a super crunch that will be unrecognisable from those school memories.

Roasted cauliflower with a sultana, caper and parsley dressing

Serves 4 as a side salad or starter

Takes 25 minutes

For the roasting pan

1 x cauliflower, outer leaves removed  (the leaves are edible so don’t waste them, treat them like any other leafy green)

1 x tsp of cumin seeds

4 x tbsp of olive oil

For the dressing 

1 x tbsp of  soaked juicy Turkish sultanas (soaked overnight or for around five hours)

1 x tbsp of  Italian capers

1 x tbsp of decent red wine vinegar

1 x clove of crushed garlic

1 x tsp of pomegranate molasses (optional)

a good handful of flat leaf parsley

a generous pouring of your best olive oli

Topping

a good handful toasted sunflowers seeds or toasted flaked almonds

1. Turn your oven onto its hottest possible setting and prepare the cauliflower by carefully cutting it into medium sized florets and adding it to a large roasting tin. Toss with the cumin seeds and olive oil. Roast for around 20 minutes until browned, shake the tin after 10 minutes so the florets get an even colour.

2. While your cauliflower is roasting away get the blender out and add all the dressing ingredients except the olive oil. Blitz and add the oil until you have a thick dressing, tasting as you go and seasoning with sea salt and black pepper. Toast your seeds or nuts in a hot dry skiddle or frying pan taking care not to burn them.

3. Remove the cauliflower from the oven and allow to cool. Toss with the dressing and sprinkle with seeds or nuts. Serve warm or at room temperature. Eat alone or with a chuck of sourdough or an earthy grain such as spelt.

I’d love to hear your twist on any unloved autumn veg.

Roasted cauliflower with a sultana, caper and parsley dressing

Roasted cauliflower with a sultana, caper and parsley dressing

Jars of Winter Sunshine

19 Dec

This year I really wanted to make something, rather than buy something. Thoughtful little edible Christmas presents for my family were it. I was having a think last week while lying in bed with my girlfriend about what I could make that would be a bit of a treat and at the same time affordable and practical.

Lemon Curd, of course, an old classic most loved and documented in the Victorian era served with scones or thickly spread on slabs of dense white bread. It definitely has a tinge of nostalgia around it, almost Famous Five like. It’s also something that’s never the same when shop bought.

All you need is some juicy organic unwaxed lemons, caster sugar, eggs, butter and some spare jars which need to be washed with soap and warm water, then placed upside down in a medium oven for about half an hour.

LEMON CURD

Makes 4 small jars

Zest and juice of 8 unwaxed lemons

400g of caster sugar

200g of butter, cut into small chunks

6 eggs and 2 egg yolks

4 sterilised jars, 4 waxed discs, 4 covers and 4 small elastic bands

1. Add the lemon zest, juice, the sugar and the butter into a heatproof bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water. Ensure that the bowl is not touching the water.

2. Stir carefully with a whisk until the butter has melted.

3. Mix the eggs and yolks with a folk and add to the glowing lemon mixture.

4. Let it cook, stirring regularly for around 10 minutes, until it is thick and curd-like. The mixture should feel heavy on the whisk like a custard.

5. Remove from the heat and pour into your warm sterilised jars and seal while warm.

6. Once cold, label and make them pretty with ribbon or loved old cloth!

(Recipe adapted from Nigel Slater, 2010)

They will last for about three weeks if stored in a cool place.

Serve generously with meringues, amaretti biscuits, scones and slabs of crusty bread.

There are still five days before Christmas day so get cooking and flood your kitchen and friends with some winter sunshine.

(Rebecca Clarke)

(Rebecca Clarke)

(Rebecca Clarke)

(Rebecca Clarke)

(Rebecca Clarke)

My vegetable of the month: Beetroot

24 Nov

We’ve been getting juicy earth covered bunches of beetroot in our seasonal organic box for the last two months. Get the memories of bad Borscht out of your mind now.

I’ve roasted them for hours in the oven with garlic in their skins served with creme fraiche, pistachoes and lime zest, cooked them and made an autumnal salad like my grandma does with grated carrot, roasted sunflower seeds and bite size pieces of orange, if available with a yogurty citrusy lemon dressing.

I really wanted to do something with a South East Asian twist and came across a recipe in Leiths Vegetarian Bible, don’t be sacred, it’s a fab book, even if you love eating animals. My brother gave me the recipe book whist I was at university and it continues to inspire me and is quite ideally stained with beetroot.

BEETROOT, COCONUT AND LIME SOUP

30g unsalted butter

1 medium onion, sliced

3-4 stalks of lemon grass, trimmed and sliced

800g-900g beautiful purple tender cooked beetroot

1/2 pint of vegetable stock – Bouillon or homemade

1 x 400ml can of coconut milk

juice and zest of one lime

salt and black pepper

Garnish with a dollop of creme fraiche and lime zest

1. Melt button in a heavy bottomed pan, add the onion and lemon grass and fry over a low heat until soft.

2. Peel and trim the beetroot (after cooking in boiling water). Cut into largish chunks. Put in the pan with the stock, season with salt and pepper and bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes.

3. You’re nearly done. The smells should be amazing. Puree the soup in a blender with the can of coconut milk.

4. Pour the soup back into the cooking pan and add the lime juice and season with salt and pepper, taste. Reheat and top with a dollop of creme fraiche and some lime zest. Serve with toasted Sourdough or Rye bread!

(Recipe adapted from Leiths Vegetarian Bible, 2002)

Don’t be intimidated by beetroot, it’s an amazingly comforting and versatile vegetable. You should still be able to get your hands on some, get cooking.

(Nick Saltmarch)

(Rebecca Clarke)

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