Monday, 3 October 2016

Harvest Will Preserve Us

Lovely to be heading towards a "New Year" again and taking advantage of the end of summer harvest. Tomatoes are at their peak now, sweet, plentiful and cheap. Perfect if you have a glut of them in the garden or like me, have a fab market where I can get 5kg of tomatoes for a fiver. Same goes for peppers, cucumbers and courgettes. Store the tomatoes for the winter using Marcella Hazan's , classic tomato recipe and keep them in 250ml/ 1 cup portions in the freezer. One of my go to mid-week dishes is this tomato curry.

Quick Tomato Curry
Serves 3 - 4 
1 large onion, roughly chopped
1 heaped tablespoon of freshly grated ginger
1 tablespoon of turmeric
1 fat clove of garlic, crushed
1 heaped tablespoon of curry paste, I use a madras one
2 cups of tomato sauce, no need to defrost
Oil of your choice
Salt, pepper, sugar

In a large frying pan, on a medium heat, add 2 tablespoons of oil and the chopped onions.
Cook for 3 or 4 minutes before adding the ginger, turmeric, garlic and curry paste, give a good stir and reduce the heat and cook for another few minutes then add the tomatoes. As soon as the tomatoes start to defrost render some liquid, increase the temperature to completely cook through the curry. Taste and adjust season to your liking, add a little sugar if too sharp.
This is a great accompaniment to grilled lamb chops or over steamed cauliflower for those Paleo or low carb people. I love it poured over a bowl of fresh spinach with a dollop of plain yoghurt and homemade naan bread.

And tackle those cucumber mountains with a lovely recipe, slightly adapted, from Jane Grigson´s English Food .

Cucumber Ragoût
Serves 4
2 cucumbers, sliced into rounds, unpeeled
3 medium onions, peeled and sliced into half moons
125 mls of chicken stock
50 mls of white wine
2 rounded teaspoons of plain flour
Butter, softened to room temp.
Salt, pepper, mace ( or nutmeg )

In a large saucepan, brown the cucumbers in a teaspoon of butter, pour off excess liquid, add another teaspoon of butter and the onion and cook on a medium heat for 3 minutes or until the onions are taking on a little colour. Add the stock, wine, a pinch of salt, pepper and mace or nutmeg. Cover the pan and simmer the vegetables until cooked, about 10 minutes should do it. Mix 2 teaspoons of softened butter with the flour, add this mixture bit by bit into the vegetables, stirring gently so that the juices become a thick sauce. Adjust seasoning and serve. Good with roast chicken or a piece of pan fried fish.
You can substitute courgettes with the cucumber. This freezes well and can also be topped with seasoned bread crumbs and browned under a grill for another variation. 

As much as I love to pickle stuff, saving the best of the harvest doesn´t necessarily mean setting up a canning factory in the kitchen, use your fridge and freezer for low fuss preserving.

Top Tips For the Harvest

1. Wash fruit and veg (not soft fruits) in a sink filled with cold water with a handful of salt dissolved in it before using. Should remove a good amount of dirt, wax and some pesticides.

2. Picked a peck of peppers? Well skip the pickling, roast them. Wash, cut them in half, remove the core and seeds. Place in a shallow roasting pan, cut side up, liberally add olive or local rapeseed oil, some rosemary and or some garlic skin on and roast at 180 C until soft and unctuous. Allow peppers to cool, remove herbs, place in a clean jar or plastic container with a well fitting lid. Cover the peppers with the roasting juices, top up with more oil to cover and store in fridge, 1 to 2 months.

3. There are still some beautiful stone fruits around, peaches, plums and apricots.
De-seed and freeze them as is. When you have time, defrost to make a sauce or a puree to serve with warm, with ice-cream. Or try making a fruit liqueur .

4. Get together with friends and neighbours to buy a few cases of fruit and vegetables. That way you all a get bargain and a variety of produce to play with.

5. Make super quick Scandi pickled cucumber by warming 2 cups of white wine vinegar, 200 grams of white sugar, a bunch of fresh dill or 2 tablespoons of dried, a couple of cloves, together until sugar is dissolved, pour over thinly sliced cucumber while hot. Chill in a clean, sealed container in the fridge. Serve with everything. They´re delicious.

Harvest festivals are happening now and The Trussell Trust  has launched it´s annual Combined Harvest Appeal. The Trussell Trust runs a network of over 400 food banks, giving emergency food and support to people in crisis across the UK, where thirteen million people live below the poverty line. Click the link and see what you can do to help.

Love Food X

Thursday, 30 June 2016


What's Up Doc ?

The carrot. To some people, the most pedestrian of vegetables. Not me, I love 'em. Wild carrots, purple ones were originally found in Afghanistan and a yellow variant of it, migrated to the Mediterranean during the 11th to 14th century. They reached China, India and Japan between the 14th and 17th century. The Chinese were particularly impressed by it's nutritional value and called it "little ginseng". The Dutch, those well known funsters, bred from the pale variants and brought us the familiar orange variety.
Perhaps driven by chefs wanting to deliver new flavours and textures, a resurgence in the cultivation and availability of heirloom carrots benefits us all. Even the big supermarkets had purple ones last year for Halloween, so give them a try when you see them.
Organic carrots are available widely in the UK now at a very affordable price, worth spending the extra few pence.

Moroccan Carrot Salad
Serves 4 as a side dish
3 large carrots, grated
2 cloves of garlic, minced
juice of half a lemon
3 tablespoons of olive oil or cold pressed rapeseed oil
1 teaspoon of cumin
half a teaspoon of cinnamon
2 tablespoons of dried currants or sultanas
2 tablespoons of chopped parsley or coriander
salt, dried chilli flakes to taste

Combine all of the ingredients and adjust seasoning if needed.Chill for at least half and hour before using. Any leftovers can be upcycled to make carrot falafels or spicy carrot and potato rosti.
Carrot falafels - Use equal quantities of drained carrot salad and dried, soaked overnight, not cooked, chickpeas. Put the chickpeas in a food processor with a clove of garlic, a teaspoon of cumin, coriander and some chopped parsley and whizz. Add the drained carrots, whizz briefly again. Add a tablespoon of cornflour and a good pinch of salt, whizz again until mixture is combined. Form into egg sized balls and bake or deep fry until golden.
Spicy Carrot and Potato Rosti - Drain leftover carrot so that it's as dry as possible.Peel and grate a large spud. Using a clean tea towel, squeeze out all the moisture from the potato. Finely chop a green chilli and a couple of spring onions. Combine all ingredients. Sprinkle over some nigella seeds or some black mustard seeds if you have them to hand, a large pinch of salt and mix. Squeeze into small handfuls so that the mixture stays together, fry slowly in a mix of butter and olive oil until crispy on both sides. Serve with poached eggs, loads of fresh coriander and a splodge of hot sauce. Yum!

Image BigOven

This recipe is belongs to my fabulous mother and is a family favourite. A very moist cake that freezes well. Serve naked or topped with cream cheese icing. Whip together 300 grams of sifted icing sugar with 50 grams of soft butter, add 125 grams of cream cheese and beat well. Ice cake when it is completely cold.

Margaret's Seriously Good Carrot Cake

Pre-heat oven to 150c fan

3 cups of grated carrots
450 gram can of crushed pineapple ( you may only be able to get rings, just give them a squish n include the juice)
2 heaped cups of self-raising flour
1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
4 large eggs
2 cups of brown sugar
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil

Line a 9 in /23 cm spring form pan with baking paper.
Mix carrot, pineapple, cinnamon, eggs, sugar and oil in a large bowl until well combined. 
In a separate bowl sift the flour and bicarb together and add to wet ingredients and gently mix together.
Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 45 - 60 mins. Test with a skewer at the 45 minute mark to see if the centre is baked. Return to the oven if skewer covered in wet batter.

5 Top Carrot Tips

1. Store carrots wrapped in kitchen paper, in the refrigerator. Chop off green tops
if they have them, they'll last longer.
2. Confit sliced carrots in carrot juice and butter for extra carroty flavour.
3. Carrots love family, so work really well in combination of one or more of their with relatives, fennel, parsley, caraway, cumin and dill.
4. Make you own carrot batons, those pre - cut ones from the supermarket taste like cardboard. It takes no time at all to cut fresh ones, you& yours deserve better!
5. Roast, sliced extra large/old carrots, in the oven, it will concentrate the flavour and you'll overcome the woodiness.

Love Food, Love Carrots X


British by Google There's always an avalanche of articles published in the new year with predictions of the food and drink that...