Rob’s Recipe of the Week: ‘Spring on the way’ soup

I haven’t used a soup recipe for a while and I’ve suddenly realised I’ve been surviving off beans and toast for lunch for a little too long, We have an abundance of leeks at the moment and I could go for the easy option of leek and potato soup, but thought I would try this slightly different idea instead.

Leek, spring green and apple soup

Ingredients:
25g butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, finely sliced
600g leeks (about 3-4 large), finely shredded
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 apples, peeled and diced
250ml cider
1 litre veg stock
100g spring greens, finely shredded
salt and pepper

Method

Heat the butter and oil in a large pan. Add the onion and leeks. Fry on a low heat for 10 minutes. Add the garlic and apple and cook for 2 minutes. Add the cider and simmer for 5 minutes.

Add the stock, bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the spring greens and simmer for 5 minutes, or until the greens are tender. Blitz until smooth or leave chunkier, whichever you prefer.

Season, and serve.

Taken from: https://www.riverford.co.uk/recipes/view/recipe/leek-spring-green-apple-soup

Onion planting – still needs to happen despite COVID-19…

This year’s onion planting will happen in a slightly different way to usual, to make sure this big annual task can be completed whilst at the same time enabling members to get out in the fresh air and still maintain the recommended social distancing measures.

Come and help plant the main onion crop – a task suitable for all ages! The work will continue for as many days as needed (Tuesday-Saturday) and any member who is well and symptom free, and has not been advised to self-isolate, is welcome to come and join in – the work will be arranged so that social distancing measures can be maintained.

Due to COVID-19 we will not be providing any refreshments or arranging shared food during onion planting work sessions. You are encouraged to bring a flask with your own hot drinks, and are welcome to bring a packed lunch if you want to work both sides of lunchtime.

We will be contacting members to let them know when the work can start (dependent on the ground being dry enough for the land to be prepared). Saturday 4th April or 11th April onwards – to be advised

2020 – March news: A Load of Crap

Many people have an idealistic mental image of land work, of ruddy-cheeked farmhands chewing a stalk of hay, cheerfully digging carrots against a bucolic backdrop of butterflies fluttering across wildflower meadows.

This week, however, reality came crashing down as the time finally came to dig out the compost toilet. You may be aware that one half of the toilets has been shut for the last six months to allow its contents to decompose and pathogens to die off; consequently much of what we “harvested” was beautiful black gold, well-rotted compost with a pleasant aroma of nutrition and fertility, a far cry from its stinky beginnings, such is the cycle of order and chaos that we call nature.

Organic regulations prohibit the use of this “humanure” in growing, so we got permission to deposit it in an inaccessible corner of a nearby private woodland. Find out more about compost toilets at https://humanurehandbook.com/.

Rebecca’s Recipe of the Week: Celebrating La Jimena

We all need a good cocktail now and then. This is my new favourite. It’s an ideal way to use your remaining La Jimena oranges. Alternatively, it’s very good with blood orange juice, if you can lay your hands on any.
To make a twist of orange zest, use a vegetable peeler to cut a long strip of zest from the orange before you juice it. If you want to be super-elegant you can use a knife to trim the edges to produce a long, thin (2mm) strip. Carefully shape the strip into a tight corkscrew shape before placing it on top of your drink in the glass.

Image from Guardian Food

Blood and Sand
Serves 1

Ingredients
25ml fresh orange juice
30ml whisky
15ml sweet red vermouth
15ml cherry brandy
1 twist of orange zest, to garnish

Preparation
Fill a cocktail glass with ice to chill while you prepare the cocktail. (Discard the ice before you fill the glass.)
Put the orange juice into a blender and whizz for 30 seconds so that it gets a bit frothy.
Put the whisky, vermouth and cherry liqueur in a cocktail shaker with lots of ice and shake vigorously.
Gently fold in the fluffy, blitzed orange juice into the shaker, and then strain into the chilled glass.
Garnish with the orange twist and enjoy.

Recipe adapted from The Guardian, 21 Feb. 2020.

Rob’s Recipe of the Week: Beetroot – something a little different…

In the summer I went biking in the alps and was lucky enough to stay at a chalet hosted by an ex-River cottage and Heston Blumenthal employed chef (White Room MTB if anyone is interested). Every afternoon we would return to find cake ready and waiting for us and the beetroot chocolate cake below was so good I had to ask Matty to put it up on his blog!

Beetroot brownie cake

Ingredients for the cake – This makes two 8-inch cake tins:
125 g dark chocolate (70% or over)
125 g unsalted butter
2 whole eggs
125 g caster sugar
1 large grated beetroot
95 g flour
40 g pure cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1 tbs Butter & flour for greasing your cake tins or use baking paper.

Method:
Pre heat your oven to 175°c. Grease and line 2 x 8 inch cake tins with butter and flour or baking paper.

Gently melt butter and chocolate together using a double boiler or a microwave until melted.

Meanwhile using an electric mixer whip the sugar and eggs until light and fluffy.

Pour the melted butter and chocolate mixture into the whipped eggs and continue beating for about a minute.

Then grate a large beetroot into the mixture and stir until all incorporated.

Sift in the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients and mix until all incorporated.

Divide the mix into both cake tins and bake for about 25 to 35 minutes depending on your oven. When the cake is ready it will be soft but not a raw liquid wobble if you know what I mean. If it’s still batter keep it cooking.

Once cooked take out of the oven and let it cool on the side until ready to garnish.

This cake is good as is. However covering anything with cream and more chocolate will always be better 😂😉

Assemble as you like and enjoy. Bon Appetit! Xx

From https://www.mattygcooks.com/post/beetroot-brownie-cake

Rebecca’s Recipe of the Week: Pink Pickled Turnips (or Spanish Radish)

Dishes of pickled turnips often accompany the mezzes at a Middle Eastern restaurant (or, probably, a Middle Eastern meal). Salty and pink, they are easy to make at home. You can substitute those confusing giant Spanish black radishes for the turnips, if you still have some of these in your fridge. The lovely pink colour comes from beetroot.

The ratio of turnip to beetroot is approximate.

You can sterilise jars by placing clean washed jars in a 130C oven for 20 minutes. Switch the oven off and leave the jars inside until needed. Alternatively, pour boiling water over clean jars and leave until you’re ready to use them.

Image from https://azjewishpost.com/files/2019/03/turnips.jpg 

Pink Pickled Turnips

Ingredients

500ml water

3 tablespoons salt

1.5 kilos turnips or Spanish black radishes, or a mixture

250g beetroot

3-4 cloves of garlic

Handful of celery leaves

A few bay leaves (optional)

1 teaspoon whole peppercorns (optional)

2 cups white vinegar

Preparation

Boil the water and salt together for 5 minutes, then set aside to cool.

Peel the turnips or radishes, and the beetroot, and cut into wedges. (The size does not matter a great deal; cut them into the size you’d like to eat.) Peel the garlic and cut each clove in half.

Layer the turnips (or radishes) in sterilised jars, packing some garlic, celery leaves, and optional bay leaves and peppercorns in between each layer.

Combine the vinegar with the water-and-salt mixture and pour this over the vegetables. Poke the vegetables down with a spoon to ensure there are no air pockets and that the vegetables are fully submerged. Seal the jar—Sally Butcher recommends putting a layer of clingfilm over the top before sealing if you’re using a metal lid—and leave for at least 2 weeks and up to 6 months.

Recipe adapted from Sally Butcher, Veggistan: A Vegetable Lover’s Tour of the Middle East (2011).

2020 – February news: Wet and wild

For two successive weekends we have had been battered by wet and windy weather, and many members have expressed concern about the consequences for our infrastructure and crops. Fortunately Canalside has emerged unscathed, with the tunnels and other structures all surviving the wind without a hitch (touch wood!), and most of our field-stored crops seem to be coping well with the repeated deluges. You might think farmers are helpless against the onslaught of brutal storms, but there are many farming practices that can really help mitigate the effect of extreme rainfall that we’ve seen over the last five months, most of which are integral to the organic approach and involve protecting and nourishing healthy soil as your most precious resource.

You may also be interested in this article which describes some of the factors from agricultural practices that contribute to flooding.

Rob’s Recipe of the Week: Beets and onions, French style

We seem to have had a huge haul of beetroot this year, so I’ve been looking for recipes to make use of this. I tried this one last week, but my housemate had just moved out taking all the kitchen equipment with him so mine ended up a little strange with orange chunks instead of zest, and hand rolled pastry… It was still great though! I added a little wensleydale to offset the sweetness but leave this out and the recipe is vegan.

Beetroot & red onion tarte tatin

Ingredients:

400g beetroot, cut into wedges

1 red onion, cut into wedges

3 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp rice wine vinegar

2 tbsp soft brown sugar

2 star anise

flour, for rolling

500g block puff pastry (there is a vegan Jus-Rol)

1 orange, zested

peppery green salad, to serve

Method:

Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. In a bowl, toss the beetroot and onion in 2 tbsp of the oil, the vinegar and sugar. Add the star anise and season well. Heat the rest of the oil in a large, ovenproof non-stick frying pan (normal ceramic dish worked fine for me), then nestle in the veg so that they cover the surface of the pan. Cover with foil and cook in the oven for 45 mins.

On a well-floured surface, roll the pastry to a thickness of 0.5cm and cut out a circle the same size as your frying pan. Carefully take the pan out of the oven, remove the foil and wiggle the beets and onion around in the pan to make a compact layer. Put the pastry on top, tucking it in all around the edges, then return the pan to the oven and bake for 35 mins or until the pastry has puffed up and is a deep golden brown.

Slide a palate knife around the edge of the tart, then put a plate on top of the pastry, serving side down. Flip the pan over to turn the tart out onto the plate – be careful not to burn yourself with the handle. Top with the orange zest and a sprinkle of sea salt, then serve with a peppery salad on the side.

From https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/beetroot-red-onion-tarte-tatin

Rob’s tarte tatin

Rebecca’s Recipe of the Week: Three Salad Dressings for Kale or other Hearty Salad Greens

Several people have been asking for things to do with kale, pak choi, and other robust greens. Among other things you can make them into excellent salads. In all cases, it’s a good idea to manhandle the greens a bit to soften them up. Shred them fine and, using your hands, scrunch them up as hard as you can for a few minutes. Confronted with this vigorous treatment, they will become much softer and more tender. Pak choi does not need as much scrunching as kale or cabbage, but it will benefit from a bit body English.

Once you’ve scrunched your salad, you need an oomphy dressing to stand up to these greens. I thought I would offer a compilation of some of the salad dressings that I’d recommend to complement these hearty greens. All three are incredibly simple: you just whizz them up in a blender or mix them with a fork. And if you don’t mind doing your scrunching after you’ve dressed the salad, the tenderising effect will be even more noticeable. Once you’ve done that, you can add anything else you like: leftover boiled potatoes, toasted pumpkin seeds, shredded white or black radish, olives, chick peas….

(I was intending to present a fascinating but somewhat weird recipe for a beetroot-based vegan brownie, using a recipe I tore out of an Air France inflight magazine. Extensive testing on my colleagues at work led me to change my mind. The consensus was that the recipe must be part of a plot to denigrate vegans!)

Miso-Tahini Dressing

Serves 2

Ingredients

1 tablespoon miso paste

1 tablespoon tahini

1 tablespoon soya sauce

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

Preparation

Combine the ingredients and blend well, using a fork. Taste to see if it would benefit from a little more vinegar. The mahogany-dark dressing is now ready to use. This makes enough for half a small cabbage, shredded, together with several grated carrots. It is also good on other greens.

Spring Onion and Tahini Blanket

Enough to dress a large 2-person salad

Ingredients

4 spring onions, including the green bits

2 tablespoons tahini

2 tablespoons rapeseed oil

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons water

Salt and pepper, to taste

Preparation

Roughly chop the spring onions.

Place everything in a blender, Nutribullet, or the container for an immersion blender. Blend everything until smooth. Check to see if it needs more salt, pepper, or lemon juice. If it’s too thick for your liking you can add a little more water to thin it out, and then serve either as a salad dressing, or as a dip.

Super Turmeric Sauce

serves 2

Ingredients

2 tablespoons cashew butter

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

juice of 3 clementines

2 inch piece of fresh turmeric, peeled

5 tbsp olive oil

Preparation

Combine the ingredients in a blender and whizz until smooth.

Rob’s Recipe of the Week: Onion Glut Soup

Last winter was my first at Canalside and followed an extremely hot and dry summer (with a poor onion harvest as a result of the dry conditions) which means I’ve been quite shocked at the number of onions in my share this winter – so much so that I have quite the pile accumulating at home. What better way is there to get through them than onion soup? The recipe is from another good youtube chef Binging with Babish (and is featured in Netflix’s The Chef Show S2E6) – see if you can spot his catchphrase “Let the flavours get to know each other” (although they have to do that a lot with onion soup!). I doubt beef stock is essential in this recipe so adapt it for a veggie/vegan diet as required.

Image from https://basicswithbabish.co/basicsepisodes/frenchonionsoup

Shopping List

For the soup:

1350g Onions (yields 4 servings)

6 cups high quality beef stock (or amped up store bought stock, see below) (or veggie stock)

2 Tbsp flour

Soy sauce (optional)

Fish sauce (optional)

Day old French baguette (for topping)

Gruyere cheese, shredded (for topping)

For Amped-Up Store Bought Stock

1 bunch parsley

Sliced carrots

Thyme sprigs

3 garlic cloves, halved

2 bay leaves

Sprinkle of peppercorns

2 cloves (optional)

Parmesan cheese rind

Method

Start by preparing your onions. Peel them and then cut in half from pole to pole – through the root and stem. Remove the tough root part by cutting it away with your knife. Then thinly slice them pole to pole – like cutting with the grain of the onion. This gives the slices more structural integrity so that they stand up to the slow cooking method.

Next prepare your stock. Ideally you would use homemade beef stock, but you can also “soup” up a store bought version. To do that, add your beef broth to a stock pot and bring to a simmer. Add aromatics like parsley, sliced carrots, thyme sprigs, garlic, bay leaves, peppercorns, cloves, and parmesan rind. Let it simmer for 1 hour.

In a large dutch oven (any large thick based pan) drizzle 2-4 Tbsp olive oil and let heat up for one minute. Dump in the sliced onions. It will look like way too many, but just trust me.

Slowly caramelize the onions over medium heat. Keep them moving constantly, and scrape down the sides of the pot. The onions are done when they are soft, jammy, and caramelized with a lot of fond on the bottom of the pot.

Add 2 Tbsp flour to the onions and cook for 1-2 minutes then deglaze the pot with 1 cup of dry sherry and cook, scraping up fond from the bottom of the pot.

Once the alcohol is cooked off, add the beef broth. Make sure to strain it first if you added aromatics.

Let the whole thing simmer for 5-10 minutes to let the flavors get to know each other. Optional: add umami boosters. I like to add a splash of fish sauce and soy sauce to richen the flavors.

Cut thick slices of day-old french baguette. Put them on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and top with salt and pepper. Toast bread in a 200°C oven for 5 minutes. Slice a clove of garlic in half and rub down each piece of bread with the garlic.

Check the soup for salt and pepper and season as necessary. Ladle soup into broiler-safe cups. Top with sliced baguette and shredded cheese. Put the bowls onto a baking sheet and put into an oven preheated to broil. Broil for 3-5 minutes until golden brown.

Garnish with chives and serve and enjoy!

From https://basicswithbabish.co/basicsepisodes/frenchonionsoup

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