What to do with a Pumpkin

Two for the price of one this week. Pumpkin season is upon us and apart from making lanterns, or perhaps as well as, a few recipes using up the flesh appear to be in order.

Pumpkins themselves do have a fairly bland flavour so the best tactic is to spice it up. Here are a couple of recipes to such an end.

Thai Red Vegetable Curry

This is heavily based on a Nigella recipe: Thai Yellow Pumpkin and Seafood Curry in her book Nigella Bites.

You will need (serves 4): 400ml tin Coconut Milk (full or half fat), 1 heaped tbsp Red Curry paste, 300ml Vegetable Stock, 2 tbsp Fish Sauce, 1 tbsp Sugar, 1 heaped tsp Lemongrass paste, 2 Lime Leaves (if you can get them, dried will do), ½ tsp Turmeric, 350-400g Pumpkin, chunked, 300g waxy Potatoes, chunked a little smaller than the pumpkin, 1 Red Pepper, thickly sliced, a couple of handfuls of Spinach, shredded Swiss Chard or trimmed Green Beans, juice of ½ Lime, Coriander leaves to serve.

You should be able to buy the Thai ingredients in Tesco or Sainsburys; Barts make the lemongrass paste and Blue Dragon the fish sauce. Lime leaves will be with the spices or specialist ingredients of larger supermarkets.

So, open the tin of coconut milk, don’t shake the tin before opening, and scope out the coconut cream which collects at the top reserving the coconut water. Plop this in a large, heavy bottomed saucepan over a moderate heat and add the curry paste, stir that around for a minute or two and then add most of the coconut water, the stock, fish sauce, sugar, lemongrass paste, lime leaves, turmeric, pumpkin, potatoes and peppers and simmer until the pumpkin and potatoes are just tender, about 15 minutes. Then add the greens and cook for another 5 minutes or so and finally add the lime juice. Serve on rice or with naan bread and sprinkle with the coriander.

You can add prawns with the greens if you want and cook until piping hot. This has that lovely sweet, hot tang to it. Yummy.

Easy Peasy Carrot and Pumpkin Curried Soup

This is quicker to make than say the title.

You will need: a small Leek, finely sliced, a splash of Sunflower Oil and an even smaller splash of Garlic Oil, 2 tsp Ginger, grated, 300g sliced Carrots, 300g Pumpkin,chunked, 1 litre Vegetable Stock, 1 tbsp medium Curry Powder, ½ lemon, juiced, Coriander leaves (optional)

In a large saucepan, gently fry the leek in the oils and after a minute or two add the ginger, stir that around and then add the pumpkin and carrot and sweat over a low heat with the lid on for 10 minutes or so. Stir in the curry powder and then add the stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes or so until the veggies are tender. Blend. Season if required (but I doubt it) and add the lemon juice. Delish.

Now, I will tell you how to make the little pumpkin cakes above next time, I am still trying to refine a pumpkin cupcake as the Hummingbird one is frankly a disaster. Those above are plain cake with orange flavour butter icing, but more of that next week…….

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Chilled Thai Broccoli and Ginger Soup

This has got EVERYTHING going for it. Low-fat as I used low-fat coconut milk, non-dairy, no gluten, works well heated up or chilled so perfect for all seasons

and absolutely scrumptious.

Just before we get onto that I am going to just show you these in a fit of jingoistic, patriotic excitement. Good Luck Team GB we are rooting for you in this house!

So on with the recipe; you will need for 4-6 servings:

2 tbsp Thai Green Curry Paste, 1 can of Coconut Milk, 600ml of vegetable stock, 3 cm piece of peeled Ginger, grated, 2 freeze-dried Lime Leaves, 2 heads of Broccoli, washed and broken up into smallish florets, 2 tbsp of fresh Coriander, chopped, 1 ½ tsp of sugar, the juice of a Lime, plus a little zest to garnish.

If you have a recipe to make Green Curry Paste, then I strongly recommend preparing the paste from scratch. It is far superior to the bought stuff. I use Nigel Slater’s recipe which can be found here. Half the quantities stated gives 2 tbsp.

Once you have made the paste it is easy peasy. Pour the coconut milk and the stock into a heavy bottom saucepan over a moderate heat and add to that the curry paste, grated ginger, broccoli florets, kaffir lime leaves, sugar and half the lime juice. If you have not made your paste you may wish to add a tsp of fish sauce to supply a bit of saltiness. Bring to the boil and then turn the heat down and simmer, with a lid on, until the broccoli is tender. Blend. Add the remaining lime juice and stir in most of the chopped coriander and check the seasoning.

That’s it.

Ladle hot or cooled into bowls and sprinkle with a little more coriander and the lime zest. I started off with it hot as I couldn’t wait and then moved onto chilled with a couple of ice cubes in the bowl. It delivers that sharp heat that inflames the back of your throat. Yummy.

Beach Hut Food (or almost half a dozen things to do with Tortilla Chips)

Despite the distinctly mediocre weather we have been experiencing this week, we have found our collective stiff upper lip and pressed on with our half term/Jubilee plans regardless. We like to book a beach hut on Studland beach for a week each year and this week has been the appointed one. The weather on the Isle of Purbeck can frequently render national forecasts useless and certainly for part of the time I think we have managed to suffer far less rain than some. Sunday tea time we returned from a very pleasant afternoon at the beach, switched on the TV, to find the National Anthem in full flow on the River Thames and a bedraggled choir trying to look cheerful notwithstanding the driving rain. Nightmare.

Kitchen for the week

So during a typical week, we like to cook at the beach as much as possible and over the years we have developed Beach Hut Food. This can easily be regarded as camping food and so with the camping/glamping/festival season upon us some might find the following useful. I’m not really suggesting anything very revelatory just jogging memories I suspect.

The return of the 5 layer dip; the original recipe is here but an easier or possibly more child friendly version would be as follows:

Small tin of refried beans spread on the bottom of  the bowl/saucepan/suitable receptacle.

A layer of sweetcorn from a small tin to cover the beans or a layer of guacamole from a ‘ready to eat’ tub

A layer of tomato salsa, strength to your taste

A layer of half fat soured cream

A layer of grated cheese

Arrange the tortilla chips around the bowl as illustrated. This is really good as an accompaniment to a barbecue. N.B. Doritos are not very strong and therefore not good for scooping. Sainsburys Basics Tortilla Chips are much much better in this regard.

Tortilla Soup; British summers being what they are, soup is still a must even in July at times. Cuppa soup Cream of Tomato or a tin of Heinz Tomato can be pepped up with a few drops of Tabasco sauce and tortilla chips to dip with.

Camp style Caesar Salad; this is adapted from a Nigella recipe so she deserves all the credit. Arrange some salad leaves (Little Gem are good here) in a bowl and dress with Caesar salad dressing (we like the Pizza Express Light variety). Add to that handfuls of tortilla chips and grated Parmesan or any grated cheese.

Tortilla chip sandwiches; if you are at the beach, the ‘do I have sand in my sandwich’ concern can be offset by adding tortilla chips to the filling. The crunchy sensation they provide will mask any actual sand. Again grated cheese, a drop of Tabasco and chips work well and should you have these ingredients around because you made the 5 layer dip, will help with using stuff up.

As it was Jubilee weekend, we really pushed the boat out however and had my favourite sandwich of all, baguette with smoked salmon, lots of dill, lemon juice and black pepper and whilst barbecuing constructed this user-friendly arrangement.

Frozen raw King Prawns can defrost throughout the day in a cool box. Thread onto the skewers as the barbecue is lit to finish defrosting if necessary. Fill a fish holder with the skewers and cherry tomatoes for ease of handling.

The fish holder is often filled with Bream stuffed with dill. If you have sea air up your nostrils, this barbecue dish has to be one of life’s great pleasures.

Warming up for Wimbledon

More from the Unloved Vegetables – No.4: Carrot and Ginger Soup?

Now with this series of posts about unloved vegetables I do fully appreciate that what is unloved for some is probably much beloved for others. Timing is probably also a factor in this regard too. I can well imagine carrots receiving a warm welcome alongside kohlrabi, turnips and swede, but just at the moment when the other inhabitants of the veg box are purple sprouting broccoli, mushrooms, aubergines and if you are really lucky asparagus, carrots will induce and sigh and droop of the shoulders. It has been a long winter with the root vegetables and still having to deal with carrots is starting to feel a bit much. Suddenly they are a little more difficult to use up as the hearty winter meals which lend themselves to featuring carrots as an accompaniment are now fewer and further between.

A seasonal dish using carrots such as coleslaw only needs one!

Soup is the answer. It is often the answer as you can make it and freeze it if you don’t really fancy it or the weather is too warm. Not something we are likely to be struggling with this Bank Holiday. Soup really will be the answer as temperatures are due to plummet. But something zesty and bright might help.

Carrot Soup I think might also assist if you are on a hidden vegetables campaign. A blended orange coloured, velvet-y smooth soup is really not going to seem unappetizing surely and if you can coax the target consumers into having a little taste that may well lead to the drinking of an entire bowlful.

You will need: 1 medium Onion, chopped, 2cm length of fresh Ginger or more if you like the flavour and zesty heat, grated or finely chopped, 1 medium Potato, roughly chopped, 6 or 7 medium Carrots, roughly chopped, 600-800 ml  Vegetable Stock, juice of ½ Lemon, 1 tbsp of Oil, Salt and Pepper.

It’s dead easy: Heat the oil in a large saucepan and add the onion, cook over a moderate heat until transparent, add the ginger and stir round for a minute or two. Add the potato and carrots and sweat gently with the lid on the saucepan for 5- 10 minutes. Pour in the stock and bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 20 minutes or so. Once the vegetables are tender, blend the soup with a hand held blender for preference, check the seasoning, add the lemon juice and a little more stock or warm water to achieve a preferred consistency. Done.

Sorry for the lack of photos today, I can’t seem to get the iPad to let me load anything else up from the media library – best laid pans plans, blah, blah, – and I am not at home. But I’m sure everyone can guess what carrot soup will look like.

Photofest coming very soon …..

Hidden Vegetables Italian Style – Minestrone Soup with Meatballs

Following on from last week’s post, I definitely tried to keep the kids and food debate general but as I wrote I realised that I was actually rounding on the subject of kids and veg. That 5-a-day advice haunts me relentlessly and I can’t blog for much longer without addressing the issue head on.

I’m with everyone else who becomes more than a little frustrated with the food writers who claim that as long as the food looks appetizing and that you start as you mean to go on then there is no reason why your kids won’t enjoy vegetables. Yeah right! Perseverance, patience and pleading is more likely and so it has been with us.

I don’t share Annabel Karmel’s world view.

Nigella on the other hand does really talk some sense and not just on this subject. She, like me, believes in cooking vegetables hidden in cakes, casseroles and the like, suggests that if you are really going to be bold about it (and deal with the issue head on) serve fruit and veg up in pure form as part of the habilitation process and (rather randomly) the kid’s homework is far more troublesome than your own ever was! (It’s that last remark which totally won me over to her way of thinking.)

Marrying kids and vegetables is a long hard road with many pitched battles along the way; I keep adding cucumber to Child 1’s ham sandwiches and he keeps taking it out and leaving it in the box to taunt me. He is clearly defiant on this point as he doesn’t even pretend he’s eaten the stuff by disposing of it in school. Both of mine will not ever never eat a tomato (just like Lola, or maybe because of her!) cherry or otherwise despite that fact that I will pop the little ones like sweets.

So we really are driven to underhand means. For the record mine do eat a reasonably wide range of veg now but only after much work and the list of acceptable veg is random, still protest if asked to eat fruit however will do so if they can have something ‘nice’ afterwards (I don’t always comply) and, thankfully, can still be completely duped with hidden stuff. Tee Hee.

Mouli

The Continentals do have gadgetry for helping with this; the French have moulis, and the Italian’s, Nonna (Grandmother – hardly a gadget I know) to cook sauces and soups for hours and hours so that a rich, thick, delicious homogenous, usually tomato coloured goo is all you have to look at. Perfect.

Now this minestrone recipe won’t take 3 hours to make, I promise, but can be made in advance/at the weekend/frozen in batches to make a fantastic mid-week meal and can also be assembled in about ½ hour having dashed in from swimming.

Pre-heat the oven to 200°C/Fan 180°C. Into a reasonably sized saucepan add 2 tbsp olive oil and fry off a chopped onion gently for 5 minutes or so and towards the end of this time add a crushed clove of garlic, a grated carrot, ½ finely chopped red pepper and 1 finely chopped stick of celery! (Round our way this is the basis for practically anything that needs a tomato based sauce.) Cook that lot gently for another 5 minutes or so and then add 1 tin of tomatoes, chopped ultimately, 1 squirt of tomato puree, 1 pint of vegetable or chicken stock (you may need a bit more), 1 tsp of sugar and optionally 2 tsp pesto and the rind-y end-y bit of the parmesan. Stir all that round and bring to the boil and then add either a handful or so of rice or macaroni and let it simmer whilst you cook the meatballs.

Now then, you can make your own….. *hmmm* (quite), or buy some of those in packets of twelve on the fresh meat section, beef or sometimes you can get pork or turkey. Think mini here as we are having soup not spaghetti, so cut each one in half and reshape and place them in a small roasting tin or baking sheet and pop in the oven for 15 minutes or so to cook. Beef and pork will cook in their own fat, turkey may need a drop of oil in the bottom. Everything should then be ready together. Back to the soup: fish out the parmesan rind, check the seasoning and add a little more warm stock or water if necessary to provide the right consistency.

If you need to produce a smooth puree then the tomato sauce minus the pasta/rice can be blended with a hand-held blender and couscous can be added with 5 minutes to go instead.

Ladle into bowls and ‘sprinkle’ with the meatballs. Supply grated cheese, parmesan or otherwise if you wish. To bulk this up a little more, we often have cheese on toast as an accompaniment rather than cheese sprinkled on top.

N.B. Whilst you can freeze or hold the soup in advance I would cook the meatballs at the point you need them, not ahead of time.

I appreciate that the amount of veg here is minimal, but everyone has to start somewhere, we will aim higher when I return to this topic.

Ham up and give it a try!

This post is for my Brother, his partner and their brand new daughter, my Niece, with love. (See Baking:Recipes and What not Page above for some details on constructing this cake)

Baby in Pram - Vanilla Sponge Cake

Apparently my Mother doesn’t like ham. When she mentioned this in passing during my twenties, it came as quite a surprise. Somehow I had never noticed despite the perpetual complaining about the size of ham my Father wished to buy and bake to help along the Christmas festivities. The general mantra in our house when I was a child on the testy subject of liking food was that ‘you eat what is put in front of you’. Clearly as I had not realised her aversion to ham, she does practice what she preaches, however the genius in this remark is of course that if you are the Senior Buyer and Cook as well, you can serve up what you like. Clever. For the Junior Food Consumers though I remember a couple of battles on this front;

1. The psuedo-chilli.  Something, when I was 8 or 9, resembling some sort of chilli dish (mince-y thing on rice) was served up one evening at tea but tasted utterly alien based on appearance expectations and I have to say, WAS ABSOLUTELY DISGUSTING. Very rarely in our house did my Mother misjudge these things but even now as an adult I cannot image what ingredients she had used and why she was trying to pass this concoction off as something more familiar. There were a fair few tears about this, mainly of disappointment on the Junior Food Consumers part (we♥chilli) and I have no recollection of the outcome. (Brother now believes this was a tin won at a Tombola).

2. Mac and Cheesegate. Now, an unusual victory for one Junior Food Consumer in particular. I’m fairly sure this wasn’t the first time this dish had been served up. If I remember rightly our Mac and Cheese came with a squirt of tomato ketchup as a kind of garnish. Yummy. Naturally I was munching away quite happily. (This was back in the 70s way before the food revolution and Jamie Oliver was definitely still in nappies). My Brother, I realised after a little while, was picking at his serving and eventually my Mother passed by, noticed and said something along the lines of  ‘eat your tea up’.

‘ I don’t like it’

‘Never mind about that, just eat it up’

‘But I don’t like it’

Well, eat it now I’ve made it’

‘But….’              you get my drift.

I was long finished and in the circumstances had been allowed to leave the table, but not my unfortunate Brother. One could occasionally hear my Mother’s increasingly irate demands and my Brother’s wailing as he sat there contemplating his fate. Eventually the ultimate sanction was issued, ‘if you don’t eat it you will have to go to you room for the rest of the evening’. And, without missing a beat, he hopped down from the table and headed to his room rather than eat up and get on with his day. The stuff seemed to make him heave and as a result this turned into the one exception from the ‘eat what’s put in front of you’ rule.

Anyway, back to my Mother and the ham. The upshot of all this was there were few meals, now I think about it, which included ham in any form (I’m not sure where she is on bacon) and my Father will always have ham, egg and chips if he sees it on a pub menu.

So the discovery of unsmoked gammon ham joints has been an inevitable revelation. I love the endless and often instant options and find the taste and texture far superior to the regular, sliced stuff in a packet. Most recipes to cook these joints seem to include, at least in part, an instruction to roast in the oven at some point, but I really don’t think this necessary so:

  • Having purchased one of those vacuum packed joints from the supermarket, often around 750g, cut open the wrapper and remove making a note of the weight.
  • Place joint in a saucepan and barely cover with cold water. Bring to the boil and then discard this just boiled water. Process removes scum and excess curing salt.
  • Start again from cold, filling the saucepan so that it barely covers the ham again and return to the boil. This time round though reduce the heat so you achieve a vigorous simmer and cook for 20 minutes per 500g or per lb, so 750g one needs just 30 mins.
  • Remove from the heat and you can either lift it out with a slotted spoon and serve slices of it immediately or leave it in the water for another 30 mins (keeps it lovely and moist) before draining the water in to a bowl (great stock!) or down the sink and allowing it to cool completely on a plate.

The obvious quick meal here is ham, fried egg and JP’s or potato wedges, more yumminess. It goes without saying, it makes great sarnies, and would be a tasty addition to the above Mac and Cheese! Once completely cold, wrap in foil and fridge where it should keep for up to 5 days.

I shall post more recipes with this ham in due course but for the record, lardons (small diced pieces of ham) can be fried until crispy and dropped into the celeriac soup recipe from the Veg box and unloved vegetables post.

The Unloved Vegetables No. 2 – Bye Bye Beetroot

Well according to my chart, we are very much at the end of the beetroot season, is this a good thing? Well it probably depends how you are getting on with the heap you may have lurking in the garage/shed/bottom of the fridge from the veg box delivery. It’s possibly a bit late in the day to be worrying about what you might do with them, but on the other hand – how about one last push to eat, or get others to eat, them safe in the knowledge that they won’t feature again until next winter.

The quick one here would definitely be to wash, peel and chunk and add to similarly sized chunks of swede, celeriac and/or carrots (the other potentially unloved veggies with presence at the moment). Roast in a hot oven 220°C/fan 200°C in a roasting tray with 2 to 3 tablespoons of olive oil and a sprinkling of salt and pepper, a sprig or two of thyme would also be good here. Make sure all the chunks are coated with the oil and cook, turning occasionally to prevent sticking, for around 25 minutes or so depending on the chunk size. Great with roast meat, chops, baked fish or on their own with feta cheese sprinkled over, chopped parsley and a squirt of lemon on a bed of couscous.

Alternatively you can hide beetroot in chocolate cake. Yep you heard me right. I tried this yesterday with a Hummingbird Recipe. They were divine, the texture is velvety like the red velvet cupcakes and for a minute I did think one could use this batter instead of the traditional red velvet batter as an alternative. The beetroot batter had a distinctly red hue about it, but upon cooking it turned brown. The upside to that though is no one would ever know the secret ingredient so no chance of rejection. The recipe I used was from The Hummingbird Bakery Cake Days book. I have had a look online, but can’t find it there. The other recipes I have come across do seem more of a faff. The picture is of three un-iced and one iced with chocolate buttercream to demonstrate how innocent they look.

However my most favourite thing to do with beetroot, and I think this might be turning into a bit of a theme, is to make soup. Looking back through a couple of recipe books, making beetroot soup can seem a bit of a palaver, but in fact I think I have honed it down to something very straightforward.

So: wash around 4 beetroot (amount is not critical) and peel with a potato peeler. Dice, along with a medium potato. Chop an onion and fry until transparent in a little olive oil, and then add the diced beetroot and potato and about 1 inch worth of grated ginger. Allow to sweat on a lowish heat for 5/10 minutes and towards the end of this time, add a little crushed garlic. Pour in 800 mls – 1 litre of veg stock, bring to the boil and cook until the veg is tender. Blend. In a separate small bowl combine 2 good tablespoons of soured cream and a teaspoon of hot horseradish (see pic) and then add this to the soup and stir in along with about another teaspoon of grated ginger. Season. This has a very subtle hint of the ginger and horseradish, can be left out all together or stepped up for more of a kick. Yummy. Dill can be added as a garnish, for a flourish, if serving as a dinner party starter!

Very, Very Yummy

Barely got your hat off Chicken Noodle Soup

I always remember a wise member of my family quoting an expression her mother used to use regarding those occasions where you come bursting through the front door, and for whatever reason, a meal should have been on the table 10 minutes beforehand. She described it as ‘being in such a rush to get started on the cooking that she had barely got her hat off’. I know the feeling, chopping in your coat, frequently in fact and today was such a day.

We had been travelling home from our weekend away and despite having left plenty of time (and thank goodness we had), we were starting to run late. It was a lengthier trip than usual due to downpours, copious roadworks, heaps of traffic, the gods conspiring to send every traffic light we approached red and some extremely dawdle-y type individuals. Child 1 needed to be at cricket practice (yes that’s right, cricket) more or less upon arrival home and guess what – needed some tea before he went.

What do you cook at such a moment – barely got your hat off, practically store cupboard Chicken Noodle Soup.

I had had the foresight to buy the cooked chicken you need, those packets of ready roasted chicken (breast or legs) or even thickly sliced chargrilled chicken are perfect for this, but as it’s Monday you might have left over Roast Chicken knocking about.

So for 2 medium sized children:

to a saucepan add a chicken stock cube, about 800mls to 1 litre of boiling water, 2 tbsp each of mirin and soy sauce (reduced salt is fine), 2 layers of Sharwoods medium egg noodles, broken up a fair bit, a good handful of frozen peas and/or sweetcorn (or whatever you think you can get away with) and an amount of cooked shredded chicken equivalent to a chicken breast or so. Allow the whole lot to come to the boil and simmer for 3 minutes or so until the noodles are cooked and the chicken is piping hot. Check the broth for seasoning, you can always add a little more soy sauce if necessary. Ladle into bowls and supply those conjoined chopsticks or a fork and also a spoon. Perfect.

Mine love this and not just because it is quick.

Adults may eat it too, but you might need to get a bit more creative, assuming time and scope. One might add a little chilli, flakes or fresh, mushrooms, fresh coriander etc.

Today is Veg Box Day and the Introduction of Unloved Vegetables

Today is veg box delivery day – Hurray!! What a shame the fridge is still half full of the previous delivery, I feel a bit of soup making coming on. A lot of our cooking and eating is governed by the fortnightly appearance, over the garden wall, of our veg box. We have subscribed to one for years now and really do feel lost without it. Not having to think about which veg to buy I find quite a release, drives the small amount of menu planning that goes on here, ensures we are eating seasonally and prevents the peppers-broccoli-mushrooms rut we would be stuck in otherwise.

A lot of my peers also seem to belong to that section of the population which feel they ought to have, do have, did have, cancelled then went back too, couldn’t get on with but nonetheless did try a veg box. Many of us seem to treat veggies like one views medicine, it’s got to done, grimly peeling, chopping, steaming, coaxing kids into eating and endlessly flicking though cook books over. My view, for what it is worth, is that either because I need an antidote to the amount of sugar I work with or because I genuinely like most of them, I really don’t mind the effort involved in coping with them but admittedly it probably has taken years to get into a groove.

I currently have a Riverford box and previously to that when living in Bristol we had one supplied by The Green Wheel who can be located with a bit of searching on their link (Don’t have a website). Green Wheel were completely great, as Lola from Charlie and Lola might say. Reliable, veg was great, you had little treats of this and that, the odd lemon thrown in and Billy and Co really thought about what people might need from their veg delivery. True customer service was a trademark and I was sad to eventually move out of their range. However Riverford are good too and in my experience deliver slightly better quality veg than Abel and Cole the other big player in this field (!).

Now it’s hard to make any of this sound very jolly so I think I’ll have a picture, of a carrot cake (the shed), which happens to have veggies as part of it’s theme.

Unloved Vegetables

I doubt these need much explanation. Chatting to friends about their experience with ordering boxes the main complaint is usually ‘too much of things they don’t really want to eat’. The reasons behind this problem probably range from not liking something, to the dictatorial nature of the veg box to just not having enough recipes to vary how a particular veg box inhabitant might be served up. The unloved vegetables. This theme of using up unloved veggies is sort of starting to take root (!) in recipe books as cookery authors and chefs have worked out that those who buy such books are often veg box recipients too. Box schemes themselves also try to help with this, I for one have never got on that well with most of the veg recipes supplied by schemes. During the week I often want a one pot meal and endless recipes using veg as an accompaniment do not hit the spot. A range of books and authors seems to be the only tactic.

I am planning to try to address this from time to time as I blog to give some ideas for those in despair over too many beetroot, cabbages, swedes, leeks….

So unloved vegetable number ONE – Celeriac

Soup is often an excellent route to take when dealing with unloved veggies. Celeriac I think is relatively versatile, as it can be mashed with potato, mashed on its own, used to pad out casseroles, widely used in salad-y type things and also works very well in soup.

A basic celeriac soup recipe might look like this: Chop an onion, and fry over a medium to low heat in a reasonably sized knob of butter and a little oil until transparent, add a clove of crushed garlic, along with, diced, a medium potato and a medium celeriac, (optionally a sliced leek),  cover and sweat for 10 minutes or so over a low heat. Then add around 1 litre of stock, veg or chicken, actual or from stock cubes is fine. bring to boil and simmer for around 20 mins until the veggies are tender. Blend, add a little thyme or chopped dill or parsley and a couple of good tablespoons or either, fromage frais, crème fraîche, or double cream. Season to taste.

Things one might add here: ¼-½ tsp of truffle oil or garlic oil, or 15-25g of dried mushrooms soaked in boiling water for 20 minutes (add these, drained, with the stock), or 4-6 chopped field mushrooms (again add with the stock), or lemon juice to taste.

The New Covent Garden Food Co. Soup Cookbook  needs a shout out here, brimming with fantastic recipes and lots of inspiration.

P.S. A word about tagging – I am planning to develop my own tagging system to work alongside the more conventional one supplied by WordPress. Unloved veggies will therefore appear as a tag and be used each time I feel I have blogged about a tricky vegetable. Over time I’m hoping this will produce a list of recipes to browse through.

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