Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Rice & lentils, roast tomatoes and steamed vegetables

There is a "rule" in our house ... use up last week's veg box first - perhaps adding special stuff from the new box, particularly if it's a thing which will go off quickly.  Usually this requires self-control as all the lovely fresh veg comes in ... but tonight it was a bit of a relief, because the mix of new veg is quite a challenge - it's going to be an inventive week.  Something I can tackle tomorrow with a bit of thinking time - but not when I got in at nearly 7pm tonight.

So, from the old veg box - cherry tomatoes, cabbage, lemon.

From the new veg box carrots and runner beans.

From the larder basmati rice, puy lentils, dried fried onions, olive oil, garlic.

From the fridge natural yogurt.

1.  Cook rice & boil lentils.
2.  Roast tomatoes with olive oil and salt.
3.  When the rice, lentils and tomatoes are approaching ready (after about 30 minutes) steam the chopped veg.
4.  Stir crushed garlic, lemon juice and seasonning into yogurt.
5.  When cooked mix together rice, lentils and onions.

Serve all the elements together, and let people mix what they wish to on their plates.  Surprisingly a really well balanced bunch of flavours and textures.  One word of warning - when you squish the tomatoes to get the juice into the ricey mixture the juice is i) very very hot and ii) squirts everywhere.

Now, what do I do with... pak choi, radishes, leeks, carrots, beetroot, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, cucumber, green beans, french beans, onions and potatoes?  Lots of lovely ingredients, but how to make them work together?  (fortunately still some tomatoes and cabbage left to factor in)

Monday, 15 September 2014

Asparagus risotto with roast tomatoes

Very thrilled to get asparagus in the veg box.  But it's also a school night, so no real desire for multiple courses (ie. asparagus luxury as a starter) but wanting to use it at its best.  The other fresh organic veg also coming to the party - delicious but showcasing the asparagus.

olive oil
1 red onion finely chopped
crushed garlic
risotto rice - a big handful
Italian herbs
red pepper, diced
green beans, cut into in bite sized pieces
about 3/4 litre
bunch of asparagus - stem cut into 2ish cm pieces, spears left whole
80g parmesan, grated

Roast tomatoes

olive oil

So, start with the tomatoes - roast in a little olive oil with salt in a medium oven.  For 40 minutes + ... just bring them out when the risotto is finished.


1.  sautee onion in olive oil (and celery and/or carrots finely diced,  if you have them) gently for about 6 minutes
2.  Add rice, turn until every grain is coated.
3.  Add herbs, garlic and vegetables and some stock.
4.  Stir, simmer, add stock etc.  When nearly done add asparagus spears.
5.  After another couple of minutes, turn off heat, stir in parmesan, and leave to sit for a couple of minutes.

Serve, scoff.

Last of the veg box dinner

Left from the veg box - new potatoes, vine tomatoes, an onion, a few mushrooms and a cabbage - but it was also for a birthday tea, so I wanted to try to make it a bit more special.

Boil new potatoes
Crush in hot olive oil
Chuck in chopped olives and roast for 40 minutes.

Bake tomatoes in olive oil and a sprinkle of salt for 40 minutes

Chop the onion

Fry half with chopped mushrooms and garlic, in olive oil.  Add a splash of white wine and a drained tin of butter beans.

Fry the other half until a bit soft, add cumin seeds, crushed garlic and shredded cabbage.  Toss about a bit.

Scoff - celebrate birthday with nice wine.

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Leek and potato soup

Olive oil
salt and pepper
water (and some veg stock if you wish)

Sweat down chopped leeks in olive oil.
Add chopped potatoes, and some water.
Simmer, add herbs, mustard and garlic.
Season etc
Simmer until veg is soft - Zizz

You could remove some veg to keep some chunk texture, but today I choose not to - so it's quite a thick, smooth lovely creamy texture.

Equally, you could add cream, you could serve with creme fraiche - but you don't have to.

We had this with gluten free crackers and cheddar.  There are 6 more portions for the freezer for weekday lunches.  Win-win.

Friday, 22 August 2014

Gluten free crackers - onion and poppy seed

Tried a new combination of flavours for the gluten free savoury crackers ... and they were declared "absolutely, bloody, brilliant ... "  ... they were very, very good! Today we had gnomes, frogs, chicks, cats and crocodiles.

So, ...

Gluten free SR flour
Mustard powder
Butter / margarine
poppy seeds
dried fried onions
cold water

GF mixtures are gluten free ... dah dah! .. stating of the obvious!  This means that they are not elastic in the same way that wheat flours are - so think of this as a very "short" pastry.

So,  rub in the flour and fat as you normally would.  Add flavourings (bash hell out of the dried, fried onions in a pestle and mortar so that the tiny pieces can be distributed into the dough).  Mix gently, add water to bind.  Put the dough into plastic bags in the fridge to chill.

Turn oven to 180C.

Roll dough out between 2 sheets of floured baking parchment (it helps the mixture stick together and not split and crack).  Run a pallet knife gently under the pastry, lifting it from the paper.  Cut out shapes with a cutter, and transfer to a baking paper lined baking tray - I lifted them out of the mixture within the cutter squeezing the shape very gently together, rather than cutting out multiple shapes and then picking them out of the sheet. The lifting of the raw pastry means that you can move the fragile crackers - if you don't loosen them first you will not get them out of the shapes!

Bake for about 12 minutes - turning the tray around after about 8 minutes to get an even(ish) bake.

Cool on a rack (if you can wait) and then scoff!

Spinach cornbread bake

In Greece, many years ago, I had a delicious cornbread "cake" with feta and mint.  I have never reproduced it successfully, and this was not an attempt at it.  BUT, it did give me the building blocks to start thinking about what to do with shed loads of spinach and a gluten free bake - and I came up with this.

I don't measure things, so this is all guess work


Shed loads of spinach (half a kilo)
garlic (3 cloves, crushed)
nutmeg (not much, just a hint, grated fresh)
oregano (fresh, chopped, a small handful)
cornmeal/ polenta (200g ish)
Baking powder (1 tbsp)
olive oil (a splash)
2 eggs (separated)
milk (about 1/2 a pint)
feta cheese (most of a packet)
salt and pepper

Shred the spinach and allow to wilt gently with some garlic.
Make a batter with the cornmeal, baking powder, egg yolks and milk.  Whip the egg whites to soft peak stage.  Fold into the cornmeal batter.  Fold in cooked spinach and crumbled feta cheese - season.
Bake, in buttered dish, for about 30-40 minutes.

We had it with tiny roast potatoes and a tomato salad.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Gluten free "cheese" crackers with fennel ... and some gnomes

 For a while now I have been thinking of trying some GF biscuits - but savoury ones, because we're not a very sweet household.  Today I had a chance to try some.  The first batch was over cooked - but later ones came out better.  Today I made gnomes, cacti and guitars - but you can make whatever you fancy.

My decorated effort was a gnome - with sundried tomato hat and jacket, olive taponade wellies, olive eyes and cashew cheese beard.  Cashew cheese recipe - more or less this - from Chocolate and Zucchini.
The biscuits I made up myself ... )all ingerdients are "ish"

120g gluten free plain flour
75g polenta
salt and pepper
80g cold margarine (olive oil spread)
1 tbsp fennel seeds
1 tsp mustard
1 tsp crushed garlic
cold water

Rub fat into dry ingredients, herbs and spices.
When it looks like breadcrumbs, add enough cold water, and stir/kneed to bring it together.

When it is pastry-like - roll out between 2 pieces of floured greaseproof paper - cut out - lay onto greaseproof paper lined baking trays, pierce with a fork, and bake in pre-heated oven (about 10-12 minutes)